Saturday, April 14, 2007

The rich man and Lazarus

Here is a parable that seems to make at least two points. The second one I noticed has been a great encouragement to me when I've been involved with evangelism.
19"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried.
Luke 16:19-22
The rich man is in hell, which is apparently separated from Abraham and Lazarus by a great chasm. This I take as the first point: that some who receive bad things in this life will be comforted afterward, and some who receive good things in this life will suffer in the next.

Since I've received many good things in this life (and if you're reading this on your own computer, so have you), this story gives me pause. The rich man apparently did nothing to help Lazarus the beggar, who wasn't even given the crumbs from the table. Now for the second point: the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them. (Apparently the rich man knew he was culpable.)
29"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

30"'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

31"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "
Luke 16:29-31
The second point, of course, is that evangelism is never just about information or a sufficiently dramatic presentation. Moses and the Prophets had already given sufficient information for this man and his brothers. Why is this an encouragement to me? Because I have often said to myself, "Have I explained that well enough? They didn't seem to get it." So maybe "encouragement" isn't quite the right word, but this really shows the limitations of us as messengers.

And what does that mean for us today in this postmodern society? We still need to explain many foreign concepts, but really it's all up to the Lord.

posted 4/16

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