Summary: Wealth versus poverty, blind spots, kingdom building
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
(American Wealth and a World of Poverty)
Luke 16: 19-31 (p 741) Oct. 9, 2011
I’m gonna prefix this sermon with a few important statements…one of them might be the biggest understatement I’ve ever made….”I am not an economic or fiscal expert”. I pay my bills on time…I have spent some time discussing financial issues…including debt and investments with very wise financial people…but I’m a minister…
And second we need to understand that God’s word never teaches that wealth is inherently evil…Scripture never condemns riches or possessions in and of themselves…In fact; scripture teaches that God gives us material resources for our good.
The apostle Paul writes “Command (strong word huh?!!) Those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share” (1st Tim. 6: 17-18)
Money and possessions are not necessarily bad. God intends them to be for our enjoyment and the spread of His glory…
But there are some radical questions that as a minister I must ask…and I will try to ask these questions in scriptural context….
I IS IT PART OF MY NATURE TO SEE WHAT I WANT TO SEE AND IGNORE WHAT I WANT TO IGNORE?
It is a fact that in today’s world more than a billion people live and die in desperate poverty…they survive on less than 1 dollar a day.
Close to 2 billion others live on less than 2 dollars per day…that means more than half the world will struggle today to find food, and water…I spent more on my lunch at Subway yesterday than half the world has to find food, water and resources for survival for the week.
More than 26,000 children today will breathe their last breath because of starvation or because of a preventable disease.
That’s 26,000 Xavier’s…and Peyton’s…
Each of us agrees that Jesus has commanded us to “Go”, “Baptize”, “Teach”…making disciples of all nations.
But it’s very easy for me to have a blind spot when it comes to nations outside America…or better put…it’s easier for me to take care of and love people who talk like me, think like me and look like me…we start with a lot in common and that makes sharing Christ with them easier and comfortable for me.
But then I think…”Rick, are you like that rich man in Jesus’ story?”
Jesus told this story to a group of religious leaders who loved money and justified their excesses because of the culture around them.
Jesus tells them about a rich man who lives in luxury while he ignores a poor man, Lazarus, who sat outside his gate, covered with sores and surrounded by dogs, eating the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table…
The day comes when both men die…The rich man goes to Hell…the poor man Heaven. The rich man can see into Heaven and cries out for relief from the agony of Hell.
The reply from heaven…”Son, remember that in y our lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things…but now he is comfortable here, and you are in agony. And beside all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot (I’d think that number would be 0) nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”
It is very easy for us to get so involved in our lives that we forget the poor man at our door.
The rich man didn’t go to hell (because) he was rich…and Lazarus didn’t go to heaven because he was poor…their destination was determined by their faith in God.
The poor man’s name…Lazarus means “God is my help”…and Lazarus has trusted God in his sickness, hunger, and poverty to lift him up…over and over again scripture proclaims God’s care for the poor…
(p 397) Ps 35:10 says “Who is like you, O Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them”.
But the rich man felt no need for God’s rescue or faith…He had no relationship with God on earth…therefore he ignored the poor and as a result earth was his heaven and eternity became his hell.
It’s very easy for us to be like the rich man in this story…we see what we want to see and ignore what we want to ignore.
When I watch T.V. it’s usually late at night at a time when infomercials and appeals run at the breaks…often these commercials show abused or sick animals…asking for money do help in their rescue or recovering…