Sunday, April 12, 2009

Don't Be A "Rich Man"

Last week, Chad finished up the “Things Above” series. He brought up the interesting story found in Luke 16:19-31 about the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus. When both of them died, Lazarus was comforted in heaven and the rich man was in agony in Hell. The Bible says that he could look up and see Abraham with Lazarus by his side. He begged for pity and that Lazarus could cool his tongue with just a drop of water from his finger. But, Abraham told him that neither side could cross to the other; there was a great chasm between the two. The rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his brothers so that at the very least, they might not end up where he was. Abraham told him that that was what the prophets were for and that if they didn’t believe them, they wouldn’t be convinced even if someone were to raise from the dead. 

Chad talked about the interesting points about this parable. The fact that both sides could see the other (but not cross) and the fact that the rich man could remember his brothers. He made the point of saying that if those in heaven could see those in Hell, how “heavenly” would heaven really be? He compared that to what John described in Revelation 21:1-4 about the new heaven and new earth and how the old ones passed away. It is only after that is done that the word says that there is no more death, morning, or pain. It is only then that everything is final and everything is renewed and restored. Like he said, being able to see people in Hell with no hope of escape would be torture for us to observe/know just as it would be torture for them to see and know that they will never be free from torment. At least Revelation assures us that heaven will be the paradise it’s meant to be after it’s all said and done. Maybe the heaven that’s existing right now is sort of the “waiting room” for the heaven to come? It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around it all. 

Those are interesting things to think about. Since Jesus gives us a window into what heaven is and what it will be like at the very end, we should be mindful of those things when considering our choices here. If we are like the rich man and care only about our “heaven” on earth, that’s all the heaven we will get. If we are nothing but self-absorbed and concerned about our own selves, the only comforts we will have are the comforts that we seek and receive here. But, if we are humble and poor in spirit (yielding ourselves to God and seeking HIS will) our comfort will be our reward in heaven when we die and go to be with Him. 

Whenever I hear that parable, I always think about how awful it would be to be the “rich man.” I also think about how awful it would be to see people we knew on earth suffering on the other side of that chasm. Therefore, it makes me all the more concerned about telling others about Jesus so that they will not be like the “rich man.” I don’t want others to suffer in Hell; neither do I want to SEE them suffering. I will continue to live and speak the truth as best as I can so that that doesn’t have to happen. Though, it’s ultimately the choice of each person’s individual free-will. There will undoubtedly be people who choose NOT to be with Christ by denying and rejecting Him on earth. It saddens me that there are those that make “rich man” decisions to ignore Christ for the sake of temporary earthly pleasures. Why be so short-sighted? NO ONE escapes death! EVERYBODY dies! It’s an absolute certainty (for those that believe that there are no “absolutes” how do you answer that one?!). With that being said, shouldn’t we be concerned about where we will spend all eternity? Wouldn’t you rather be a Lazarus than a “rich man”? 

I hope and pray that you’re a Lazrus!! If you’re not, or you’re not sure, please don’t hesitate to talk to me!! I want to see you WITH me when this life is over; not on the “other” side. 

Grace and peace to all of you!! May the miracle of the resurrection of Christ be your greatest joy as you celebrate redemption today!! 

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