Tuesday, January 11, 2011

we are the rich man.

Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.

“Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead.There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.

“The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

“But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’

“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

“But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

“The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’” - Luke 16:19-31

So, as most of you know because I've said it in past posts, I'm reading Radical by David Platt, and he talks about this story about halfway into the book. And what he said was haunting to me. This guy is amazing in the sense that he says what needs to be said; the stuff that no one else says because they're too afraid to.

His belief is that we are the rich man. Jesus isn't talking about billionaires, millionaires, or even people that make a six-digit salary. He's talking about us. People that get to eat every day and that have a roof over their heads. The ESV says that Lazarus "feasted sumptuously every day." If you eat at least two meals a day, I would consider that sumptuous.

Now I'm not saying that you should just stop eating (please don't). BUT I am in agreement with David when he says that we are the rich man with the poor lying at our gate. What are we going to do about it? They really are at our gate. There are poor all over the US, and even more so there are people right across the border in Mexico who struggle to survive each day.

Why do we get to live how we want while others die?

"Every Sunday we gather in a multimillion-dollar building with millions of dollars in vehicles parked outside. We leave worship to spend thousands of dollars on lunch before returning to hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of homes. We live in luxury. Meanwhile, the poor man is outside our gate. And he is hungry. In the time we gather for worship on a Sunday morning, almost a thousand children elsewhere die because they have no food. If it were our kids starving, they would all be gone by the time we said our closing prayer. We certainly wouldn't ignore our kids while we sang songs and entertained ourselves, but we are content with ignoring other parents' kids. Many of them are our spiritual brothers and sisters in developing nations. They are suffering from malnutrition, deformed bodies and brains, and preventable diseases. At most, we are throwing our scraps to them while we indulge in our pleasures here...This is not what the people of God do. Regardless of what we say or sing or study on Sunday morning, rich people who neglect the poor are not the people of God." - David Platt

Reading this was hard for me, because I don't want to be the rich man. I had always thought of him in the past as this Daddy Warbucks old man who was grouchy and never shared with anyone. But in reality it never says that he was mean or rude or grouchy. He just never acknowledged Lazarus. Did he even know he was there?

I don't think it's that we don't want to help (at least for most people). For some reason, we've fallen into this belief that not everyone is called to serve the poor. I don't agree with that.

There's a part in the book where David went to speak to another congregation about missions and the poor, and what he heard from this church family shocked me:

"As we sat around the den, they asked me questions about how my wife and I were doing. I shared with them about inner-city ministry in New Orleans, where we were living at the time. I told them about ministry in housing projects ridden with poverty and gang violence. I told them about ministry among homeless men and women who struggled with various addictions. Then I told them about ministry opportunities God had recently given me around the world. I told them about people's receptivity to the gospel in places that are traditionally hostile to Christianity. I told them that, whether in the inner city or overseas, God was drawing people to himself in some of the toughest areas of the world...one of the deacons leaned forward in his chair, looked at me, and said, 'David, I think it's great you are going to those places. But if you ask me, I would just as soon God annihilate all those people and send them to hell.'"

Sadly, I think this is the view of a lot of people today. I was so angry when I read this. God doesn't call us to do things that make us comfortable or things that we really want to do. I can tell you there were times this summer that I would have rather laid on my cot than gotten up to go build.

But God calls us to be obedient. And there are so many places in his Word that talk about serving the poor. Christ shows us in Matthew 25:31-46 what happens to those who served the persecuted and the poor. They inherit the kingdom of God. And those who never paid attention to the poor and persecuted...I believe he might say, "Away from me. I never knew you."

I'm really tired of talking about the statistics. I could ring off a number of different ones off the top of my head. I'm sick of talking about making a difference. I was praying the other night about how tired I was of waiting. I am so ready to be out teaching and impacting children and families around the world...or maybe right here in the US. I have two more semesters of class left and I want to make them count, but I'm still trying to figure out how to serve the poor while I am here.

We get so nervous and upset about the possibility of giving up something so that we can follow God more, but I love how David puts it when he says, "...what it seems Jesus was saying [was]: 'In light of the fact that you have a God in heaven who is set on caring for you as a shepherd does his sheep, as a father does his children, and as a king does who is passing on an entire kingdom, don't be anxious. Sell your possessions, give to the poor, and don't worry. Your God - your Shepherd, your Father, your King - has everything under control."'

You speak Your words into my life,

And where You are is where I wanna be.

I'll say, "So long," to everything else.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Aubrie, I hear you. I have often wrestled with what I am to do with all the blessings God has heaped upon me. I don't believe for one second that he put me in a rich nation in order for me to starve myself, live on the street, or go without clothing just because there are poor in 3rd world countries who do not have those things. To do that outside of anything but a DIRECT command of God upon my life would be to despise God's favor and cheapen the struggles and pain of millions--to what end? That type of self-inflicted squalor will not help the poor at the gate any more than living to excess.

    But it is hard to know where to draw that line! How much is appropriate for me to enjoy with full thanks to the Father who so abundantly has blessed me? How much is too much? or too little?

    Ultimately, I believe we must all remain on our knees, pleading with the Spirit to reveal to us the unique ways he has prepared each of us to serve the poor. I will be praying that he makes your direction abundantly clear to you at school and beyond!!!

    Thanks for the post!
    Blessings, Stephanie