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Kolar: Who are the poor, sick people at your gates?

"Jesus told this story to a group of rich religious leaders. I’m sure they didn’t find it amusing," writes Janel Kolar.

Rev. Janel F. Kolar is the pastor at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Dickinson, North Dakota.
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Luke 16:19-21 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the continuation of this story was that the rich man went out to the gates and took some scraps to Lazarus? Or better yet, took a full meal to Lazarus! Or even better than that, sent his servants to carry Lazarus in and nurse him back to good health with good food and then hired him to work on his estate!!

Unfortunately, that’s not how the story goes. Lazarus, the poor man with the sores, dies, probably right there at the gate of the rich man. The rich man also dies and finds himself to be the one begging for mercy as HE suffers in Hades. He had his wealth and comfort in life and watched the poor suffer. The last, indeed, turned out to be first.

Jesus told this story to a group of rich religious leaders. I’m sure they didn’t find it amusing. In fact, I’m sure their hatred for him grew because he was pointing out their flaws – convicting them of living lives of the greedy and inhumane. We would all be a little upset, surely, to be called out for our worst character flaws and not only called out, but shown how our living it up in the present life might just lead to our suffering someday. Nobody wants to hear that, and yet, we all need to.

Who are the poor, sick people at our very gates? Who is it we are choosing to simply ignore? Who is dying for a drink of water or a scrap from our tables? We better figure it out, because right now, we are far more like the rich man, and I don’t really want to end up separated from God by a huge chasm, the way he did!

Related Topics: FAITH
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