AN OPPRESSOR'S CHECKLIST
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and 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.23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
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.’”
*did nothing to improve life for the poor man living at his doorstep. This was not some vagrant asking for a quarter on the city streets. This was the guy he had to walk by or walk over every day coming in and out of his house. He did not so much as give him the table scraps. And we shouldn’t feel calloused toward the vagrant asking for a toonie, either.
*he had the best of everything and had no place for modesty. We need to guard our hearts against the subtle attitude of the world that gets us to obsess about having the best. There are even Christian teachers who promote the idea that our life should be filled with only the best things the world has to offer. They miss the virtues that God wants us to pursue – contentment, moderation, and charity.
*the rich man was religious. In Hell he recognized Abraham across the gulf that separated torment from Paradise, the place of comfort. There are those who are very religious, but lack compassion. Jesus said there would be many who thought they were okay with God, but He never knew them.
*even in Hell the rich man did not value the ‘little people’ like Lazarus the beggar. He assumed that the ‘little person’ would be able to come into his hell and fetch some water. He did not even think about the suffering that Lazarus would have to suffer to come to Hell and meet the rich man’s needs.
*the rich man’s compassion was limited to his own family. ‘Send the beggar back to the earth to warn them about the horrors awaiting them when they die.’ Again, he assumed that the ‘little person’ would be happy to serve him by leaving his eternal reward to go back to others who would also treat him like a doormat.
*God is just. He didn’t let the rich man assume his way into God’s Kingdom. And God did not overlook the horrible life that Lazarus had endured. It’s ironic that the rich man ultimately ended up worse than the one who had suffered at his doorstep.
Don’t be deceived about the world. There are subtle attitudes (and a few blatant ones) that train us to live wickedly.
- ‘safety’ keeps us from communicating with or befriending the helpless. They might be dangerous. We make the assumption that it is better to ignore than to get involved
- ‘self-righteousness’ causes us to shake our heads and thank God that we don’t have to live the way others do. The assumption is these people are in a mess because they aren’t as smart as we are or they have some defect of character that makes it impossible for them to succeed.
- ‘Self-importance’ tells us we need to stay focused on our plan and not get slowed down or overwhelmed by the impossible situations of others around us.
- ‘Religion’ is content to pray from a distance and not get involved in the crisis.