Summary: A sermon about reaching out to others in the name of Christ.
“For the Sake of Christ”
We have all seen him.
He lies on a pile of newspapers outside a shop doorway, covered with a rough blanket.
Perhaps he has a dog with him for safety.
People walk past him or even step over him.
Maybe he occasionally rattles a few coins in a tin cup, asking for more.
As we see him, we may hear voices which have told us: “It’s his own fault.”
“He’s chosen it.”
“He should go and get a job.”
“If I give him money he’ll only spend it on alcohol.”
“I don’t have time for him.”
“Stay-away—he might be violent.”
Sometimes, in some places, the police will move him on, exporting the problem somewhere else.
But he’ll be back.
People like him camp in tents in downtown Chattanooga, and in East Ridge near Camp Jordan.
Some live, with their families in the Superior Creek Lodge and other extended stay hotels.
Many of them have jobs, but they are minimum wage…
…not enough to get them out of where they are.
They are in debt, and it seems the debt will stay.
They live from one emergency to another.
Every day is hand-to-mouth.
So we all know Lazarus.
He is our neighbor.
Some of us may be rich, well dressed, and well fed, and walk past him without even noticing…
…others of us may not be so rich, or so finely clothed or fed, but compared with Lazarus we’re well off!
Lazarus would be glad to trade places with us, and we would be horrified to have his life—even for a day!!!
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is not just a morality tale about riches and poverty—though, it should be read that way as well.
No, it goes much deeper than that.
It’s about indifference, selfishness, and what it really means to “Love God and love our neighbor as our self”…
…which is THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT…
…everything else falls in line if that one is fulfilled!!!
In 1994, South African photojournalist Kevin Carter won the Pulitzer Prize for a photograph that depicted an emaciated Sudanese child crawling toward a feeding center—under the hard stare of a nearby vulture.
As you can imagine, the image, which so powerfully captured the horror of famine-stricken Sudan in the early 1990’s, drew international attention.
But with Carter’s acclaim came the questions.
People wanted to know—what had happened to the child?
After snapping the picture, what had Carter done to help the dying child?
Painfully, Carter admitted that after spending about 20 minutes framing the shot, he had simply walked away.
Within two months of receiving journalism’s most coveted award, the 33-year-old photojournalist took his own life.
We human beings were created by THE LOVING GOD to love and be loved!!!
And in order for our love to be real, it must reach out actively.
In Jesus’ parable, the rich man’s sin was not that he was rich, but that he did not take any notice or care for his neighbor in need.
He was too self-absorbed.
And thus, he created his own “hell.”
So what are we, as Christ’s followers to do about this?
One of the most important things we can do is get involved in the mess and muck of life.
And we do this best, together, as the Church!!!
Did not Jesus say, “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”?
As most of you know, we have a new ministry here at East Ridge United Methodist Church…
…it’s called “East Ridge Cares.”
And we have found that we are not alone in this ministry.
Christians from other churches, United Methodist, Church of God, Baptist have become involved.
Some have participated by giving financial donations, others have provided material goods, and still a number of others have come, in person, to tutor, mentor, feed and love children who live in such impoverished, drug infested conditions it is almost more than one can bear to think about.
And you know what?
The Christians who are volunteering to help these children and families are being blessed just as much as the people they are helping.
For when we reach out with Christ’s love to other human beings, we are serving Christ Himself…
…and our faith grows, our love grows, and our lives take on new meaning as we become molded more and more into the likeness of the One Who gave His all to save us!!!
Arthur Burns, a Jewish economist was once asked to pray at a gathering of evangelical politicians.
Stunning his hosts, he prayed this,
“Lord, I pray that Jews would come to know Jesus Christ.
And I pray that Buddhists would come to know Jesus Christ.
And I pray that Muslims would come to know Jesus Christ.”