Fri. April 12

Friday April 12, 2019

Today’s Focus                                                                 wealth and faith                                           

Today’s Scripture Reading                                           Luke 16:19-31                                               

19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.

22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet.[e] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and he went to the place of the dead.[f] There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.

24 “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.’

25 “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. 26 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.’

27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

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

30 “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.’

31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Daily Reflection                                                          Lois Malcolm

Professor of Systematic Theology
Luther Seminary
Saint Paul, Minn

 Luke makes clear that the poor are a focus of Jesus’ ministry. In his inaugural sermon, Jesus declares that he has been anointed by the Spirit of the Lord “to bring good news to the poor” (4:18; see also 7:22). Jesus admonishes his followers not just to invite to their parties the friends and neighbors who can repay them, but to extend their invitations to “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” (14:13). This is echoed when Jesus describes the kingdom of God as a wedding banquet where the invitation has been extended to “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” (14:21).

Yet if the poor have good news preached to them, then the rich receive a somewhat different message. The rich young ruler who asks Jesus how he can inherit eternal life is told that he is to sell all he has and distribute the money to the poor. When this makes him sad (because of his wealth) Jesus comments that the rich tend to have more difficulty entering the kingdom of God (18:18-30). Like the rich fool, the wealthy store their treasure in ever larger barns they cannot take with them after they die (12:8-21). They may store up “treasures for themselves,” but they are not “rich toward God” (12:21).

But being “rich toward God” — and having “treasure in heaven”– is not just about piety. It is also about selling possessions and distributing wealth to the poor (12:33; 18:22). After he encounters Jesus, Zaccheus gives half of his possessions to the poor and repays anyone he has defrauded four times as much (19:1-10). As the church emerges in Acts, new converts would “sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need” (2:45; 4:32-34).

The story of the rich man and Lazarus might be difficult for many North Americans, whose lifestyle stands in sharp contrast with a majority of people in the world who live on much less. Like so much else that Luke says about money and possessions, it stands as a stinging indictment not only of the great confidence we place in financial security, but also of the drastic inequities between rich and poor we allow to perpetuate.

In this story, God’s eternal judgment has everything to do with how we use wealth in this life and whether we attend to those less fortunate in our midst. Our temptation is to explain away a story like this and to remove its blatant depiction of how God will ultimately vindicate the cause of the poor. But the message has been clearly stated. Like the rich man’s five brothers, we have been given all the warning we need

 Some questions for reflection

  • Can the faithful believer, after reading and reflecting on this section of Scripture easily justify a difference between how we treat and utilize wealth and our faith?
  • What about this Scripture either brings you great joy or great sadness?

Today’s discipleship challenge

Today I invite you to make up your own “Discipleship challenge” and share it with your group or a trusted friend!

Today’s prayer

God of compassion, Whose Son became poor for our sake:  Help us to see the face of Christ in those who are poor, and in serving them to serve You.  Give us generous hearts so that those living in poverty may have adequate food, clothing, and shelter.  By Your Spirit move us to affirm the dignity of all people and to work for just laws that protect the most vulnerable in society; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

3 thoughts on “Fri. April 12

  1. Keith Ricks

    Can the faithful believer, after reading and reflecting on this section of Scripture easily justify a difference between how we treat and utilize wealth and our faith?
    I choose to believe, and this is only My opinion, that either the writers of the Bible chose to pen their stories with the perspective of the wealthy people being terribly selfish, greedy and evil; chose to not write stories of wealthy people behaving generous where they did not give all their wealth away as this would not coordinate with the Jesus “Here is what You Must do” statements… that I do not think we are reading into correctly…; Or some of the books that did not get the “Win” into the Bible contain a “Kinder” view of these people that would have been Taboo back in the day.
    Either way(s), The Bible is one of the Greatest History books we have, so what can You say about it, really? Good Question! Part of it is Historical events describing Geological events of Our Planet & Beyond described by the Truly Human Humans that could Write back in those days. The Rest is an Account of the Human lives, including Jesus (the really interesting part), but still written by those darn Humans, … accurate, intelligent… but Humans… Not to mention inspired by none other than the Infinitely Clever, Clever God… (.. why else would everything coordinate, given some wording contradictions allowing for human input error, but still so spookily coordinating from beginning to current, and even match up with other Holy books… I mean that would be hard to do even if there were one writer… but technology shows otherwise, so science says it’s a God thing.)

    What about this Scripture either brings you great joy or great sadness?
    Anytime Scripture, particularly a Jesus Scripture, is interpertated by the peoples We are dependent upon in a Negative, One-Side, or Prejudice Way – I am Greatly Saddened. Disappointed. Upset. Angered. If it were not Wrong, I would go to a Temple and toss over a table! Of course there is the whole Police thing, but only if I could push one over… I am not very strong and I am sure they are bolted down… most likely I would just start eating the food on the table, start talking and bam! I’d forget why I was there.
    You see, for me, faith in Jesus is not telling anyone that the only way “ALL WEALTHY PEOPLE” can be a good, find favor with God, Go to Heaven is literally to give “ALL AWAY”… because of so many reasons. Humans alone are not so Stupidly basic, common, simple or same… to accuse God or Jesus of that is Awful. Human error writing the Bible. Maybe that specific person in that story Needed to Give it all away. I know some people who are addicts of things who can only become Normal or Better or Decent People if they get rid of All… but That does not apply to Everyone. Some people Not only Flourish With “A lot” but are Generous and Help Everyone when they have “A lot”. And Folks, there are so Many of these Generous people that help this World.

    Melinda and Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros (umm… not only survived the Holocaust, earned his Billions, started his K-Ching Career giving black students in S. Africa Scholarships during APARTHEID – http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/history-apartheid-south-africa – Yes, it was another cruel terrible time for Humans… Holocaust, Slavery, Apartheid.. others… but we forget the heroes of those times and often we forget many of them had to have… bum-bum-bum… $$$) … So, let’s not be one sided, I can list twenty other Million and Billionaires that support this World and if they gave it All away and did not Keep up their investments and Socializing with the Not-So-Givers They may not be able to keep on giving so much every Year.

    I’m just saying. If God wanted the Bible to be Pure and Perfect for US God would have God-Self penned it. But that is Not how it went down, and God has reasons and we either are not meant to know those reasons or we are meant to one day figure out those reasons, but right now… we don’t know… but we do know Humans wrote it, inspired by God obviously as we can figure that much out. So, can We read into the Bible One-Sidedness and Prejudice – Yes, However, Let’s Not. ‘Cause, this typing eats up a Lot of my time. Loves, Keith

    Reply
  2. Melanie

    Well…. spent some time just north of Boca Raton and one thing that amazed my friends and I was the sheer wealth in the area….literally more Jags, Bentleys, Mercedes, and mansions than we could count. I mean, the people were friendly, nice, but OH SO very rich. I couldn’t help thinking, “what the heck did these people do for a living….(before they retired, of course)?? I mean, I am very uncomfortable with excess. And a lot of this lifestyle was excess. Did they work for it? I’m sure. Did they deserve it? Probably. But what does that mean? Are they giving some away? I have no idea, and they very well might be. No need to judge anyone or their lifestyle, in fact I kept saying “wow, what it must feel like to live like this!” But then again I am so practical, and so conservative, and I just can’t see myself ever being comfortable in a setting like that. BUT I’m willing to give it a try! No, really, I think Jesus just believed that the more you have, the more you need to share with others who have less. To whom much is given, much is required….but you have to be careful how that happens, right? And then we get into the discussions of those who have less because they won’t lift a finger to do anything or help themselves or anyone else…oy vey that’s a topic for another day and another forum…..

    Reply
  3. Tom Keener Post author

    Although I’m in a group with two others communicating by text message, I decided to comment here because the length might compete with Keith. I am troubled by inequalities. While most of us don’t consider ourselves rich, we are in comparison with so many others. And how did we get where we are? I was born into a family that believed in hard work, responsibility, the value of education, etc. Without all these advantages, born into a community of abject poverty and hopelessness, I don’t know where I would be. True, some few people so raised are able to climb out of that situation. But knowing my own weaknesses I’m not so sure about myself.
    Here is one of life’s imponderables: Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? For many, the second part of that question is answered, “Because our garage is full of stuff.” Our garage has room for our car, but our basement is full of stuff. Last summer we had flooding in the basement, and some of that “stuff” was ruined. But we still have too much “stuff.” We’ve decided to do something about it before our sons have to deal with it, but it’s so hard to go through it all and decide where and how to donate the “stuff” we don’t use.
    I don’t think God wants us to give away all that we have. As Keith points out, some very rich people do a lot of good and help a lot of people with their riches. The rich man was oblivious to the plight of Lazarus. We at least need to see the needs around us and use some of our wealth to help. We also need the find out what public policies would help to bring hope and opportunity to those who are hopeless or helpless. These stories do challenge me to look for what more I can do.

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