Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Keep Your Eyes Open Luke 16:19-31

Jesus' teachings about wealth and poverty, relationships of all kinds, and religion and love for the neighbor, blossom in Luke 16. It's fascinating to watch Jesus chose stories, rather than lectures, to teach his listeners about the God's vision and justice. The stories have space for each hearer to see them self either in the Kingdom of God or on the outside looking in wishing to be included.

Jesus was speaking to a mixed audience in Luke 16. His disciples were on one side, the Scribes and Pharisees on the other, and the crowd was caught between the two sides. He offered a very different visions of what it means to serve God on earth than the Scribes and the Pharisees.

Jesus' stories were pointed and particular. First in Luke 16 was the story about the unfaithful manager. Next were the questions about divorce and last came the story about the rich-man and poor Lazarus. There are many elements of this story that catch us; no doubt they caught the wealthy 2000 years ago too.

What catches me most is the man walking over and past the poor hurting Lazarus laying at his gates. Growing up in Minneapolis it was possible to look past the poorest places and the hurting people. Now as a pastor in a bedroom town I've realized that freeways and suburbs and subdivisions make it even easier to not see the hurting people who are all around us. Sometimes just looking left or right, instead of straight ahead, is all that it takes to see what God sees as we drive around the poorest places or through them like tunnels.

Jesus taught his disciples that serving God on earth meant serving the neighbor. His challenge then, and now, is real. Care about today's earthly pleasure and wealth, that's all you'll have. Care about somebody who hurts you'll see the face of God both now and in the life to come.


Pastor Eric said...

This text speaks to me in so many different ways. The one that latched on to me this week was "the great chasm". The rich man and Lazarus were separated by a great chasm in the after life, but weren't they also separated by a "great chasm" in life (before they died)? And what are the chasms we create today? How do we separate us from others and from the glory of God. Sin is the easy answer but I would narrow that down to the chasm of despair, pride, and intellectual faith, among others.

And when we create these chasms we can't see our neighbor in need; the Lararus' of the world. But the thing that bridges the chasms of our life is the cross. There is a lyric in a song by Point of Grace that goes, "There is a cross that bridges the great divide".

Thanks for your thoughts and sorry I rambled so long.

David said...

You and Pastor Eric have done a wonderful job with this text. I enjoy reading your weekly insights and find them very helpful in devotion during the week. Thanks!

Pastor Eric said...

Thanks David. I feel fortunate that I have a place to share ideas and get feedback. I think it has really helped me grow as a theologian (but I also know I have a long ways to go). Also know that your insights and thoughts have been very helpful to me.

I am also very thankful to Unlikely Conversation for his insights. This is a weekly stop for me during my sermon prep. It is fun to toss ideas around with someone.