Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lazarus At Your Door!

First off, let me say that this is by NO means meant to call anyone out. This is 100% based on what I feel God has challenged ME with over the last few days. If you feel a twinge of conviction, it’s not me doing it. With that said, normally I don’t feel a need to defend or disclaimer stuff I say, but I felt it was important this time.

So the last few days Sarah and I have been presented with the task of helping one of her friends find a place to stay for a couple weeks, while she waits for her new apartment to become available. We’ve asked a couple of people and so far no luck. Keeping in mind that there are some absolutely valid reasons for not being able to accommodate her staying (i.e. accountability, etc…) and I’m not challenging any of them. Anyway, I was talking with my father-in-law about the difficulty of finding a place for her to stay and he brought up the parable of Lazarus at the rich man’s door. (Ftr, he’s a stinking smart guy. I’m really blessed to have him as a father-in-law. <--Heh, brownie points!) I’ve read that parable a number of times and have always read it as conveying the importance of listening to those that preach The Truth of God (that being that Jesus died to save us from our sin and reunite us with God). I’ve always read it as a warning to “listen AND act now, because later is too late.”

There are so many different commentaries as to why this parable is important and what Jesus meant by it, but as I talked it out with my father-in-law, it hit me a different way (mainly because he presented it differently). He pointed out that Lazarus, a poor man who was covered in sores (v. 20), lay in a place that the rich man had to pass routinely (probably multiple times) throughout the day. What’s significant about that fact is that the rich man never noticed him, never once offered to help, and never gave a second thought to him. That is until they sat across from each other, staring over the chasm of eternity. Then the rich man noticed Lazarus. I'm not going to speculate as to what the rich man's sin was that landed him on the far side of eternity, separated from his God. But, by his own request for Abraham to send Lazarus to “warn” his five brothers, Jesus makes the point that the rich man refused to listen to the teachings of Moses and the prophets. So where does that leave us as it applies to our Lazaruses and listening to what Jesus taught? Here's some of what He said:

On loving each other: So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. - John 13:34

On serving others: And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ - Matthew 25:40

On our status among others (and serving): And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each others' feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. - John 13:14-17

Here it is. We are called to love and serve others. Even when (and I'd add especially if) it is uncomfortable for us. To truly be love and community for others, we have to give generously and sacrificially. That's where Jesus lives. We say we follow Jesus then refuse the ones He loves. I follow a God that, in human form, lowered Himself to that of a low servant and washed His disciples' feet. Who hung out with the least of these and loved them. Who told us point blank that He came for the lost, broken and hurting. If that's the Jesus we follow, why do we make excuses and choose not to actually follow His example?  How do people that don't know Jesus experience His love?  Through US loving them with the love He gave us.

Even as I type this I am challenged with the excuses that I had for not reaching out and we (Sarah and I) are going to remedy that tonight.

Opening the door to my Lazaruses,
Bruce