Chapter: "The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man" found in Luke 16
"'The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof' (Ps 24:1). This basic biblical principle is foreign to the contemporary capitalist West. The car in the driveway, the house I live in, the pen in my pocket, the watch on my wrist, the computer I use to compose these reflections -- all belong to God. I am merely a steward of them." (pg. 380)
Actually I think if you asked many Christians in the West they would agree to this statement in theory, however, I don't believe most of us live it. Do most of us ask, "God, how would you like for me to spend this bonus that you blessed me with? Should we forego a new car so we can help this needy family?" I doubt it. I generally do not. Do you?
"The events of our lives have meaning. We access or fail to access that meaning by the way in which we respond to those events. What we do with the good gifts and the pain of life is what matters. The rich man responded to the good things given to him with self-indulgence, indifference to the needs of others, arrogance and class pride. Lazarus responded to his pain with patience, longsuffering, gentleness and implied forgiveness." (pg. 394)
The part about accessing meaning struck a chord for me. Have I responded wisely to events in my life? What have I done with life's good gifts and pain? Have I learned from those times? Grown in someway? Changed for the better?
The corrupting potential of wealth
Wealth, be it little or much, is not condemned in Scripture. What is criticized is the failure to see that all material possessions belong to God. We are merely stewards of his treasures. The parable reflects the corrupting, blinding potential of wealth and is critical of the social irresponsible wealthy. The rich man used his resources for his own self-indulgent living. He cared nothing about his God, his staff or the needy in his community. Even in hell he remained unrepentant and continued to see Lazarus as an inferior who should serve him as a waiter or an errand boy. Mammon had become his master. (pg. 395)
"Historical proof of resurrection does not necessarily create faith. The rich man saw a resurrected Lazarus and failed to repent. To demand proof for great mysteries is to cheapen faith." (pg. 396)
I included this here because I really liked that last sentence. I think I'll make it bold. I know the Bible teaches how important faith is to God. In fact Hebrews 11 tells us without faith it is impossible to please God. I think the hard part for most is wondering if we can trust God and His goodness. Blind faith seems silly at best so where's the balance between accepting any ol' thing and having a rich faith which pleases God?
"The focus of the parable is not on a form of justice that evens the score, but is found in discovering the ways in which meaning is created by our responses to the good gifts and the suffering that life brings to everyone." (pg. 396)
God blesses us so we can bless others. Not so we can grow fat and lazy and uncaring about needy people while we enjoy the pleasures of life. I like what Jesus said about storing up treasures in heaven instead of trying to do the same on earth. One hundred years from now will it matter how many gadgets, cars, houses or changes of clothing we had?
What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his soul? - Mark 8:36
Quotes from Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey