Summary: Have you ever felt as if no one cared about you? Have you ever experienced that deep dark chasm of utter alone-ness? We are, indeed, our brother and sister’s keeper! And Jesus makes this fact very clear in our Gospel Lesson this morning.
“It is Not My Problem”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor Of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
As a child, Alice Gahana survived two concentration camps during the Holocaust…
…an amazing feat, indeed!
Asked what she remembered most, she replied, “The empty windows.”
German soldiers came to her little village when she was nine years old and told her family to come to the village square.
“I walked that morning carrying my suitcase, down our cobble-stoned street—the street that I had walked all my life…
…But as I walked down the street, I noticed the windows were empty.
No one came to the windows.
My friends and neighbors knew what was happening…
…Nobody came to the windows to see what was happening to me.”
To be left alone in this world is the most horrible of all plights.
To feel as if no one cares about us, can be like hell itself!
To be separated from any sort of love—well, I suppose that is hell, is it not?...
…even worse than the pain and torture of a concentration camp itself!!!
Have you ever felt as if no one cared about you?
Have you ever experienced that deep dark chasm of utter alone-ness?
We are, indeed, our brother and sister’s keeper!
And Jesus makes this fact very clear in our Gospel Lesson this morning.
This parable 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!!!
Our love for God and for others means more than not harming others.
In order for love to be real, it must reach out actively.
Love requires that we help other people.
In Jesus’ parable, Abraham says, “between us and you a great chasm has been fixed…”
That “chasm” is created by the indifference of one person for another.
The rich man in the parable lived behind a wall of indifference.
He didn’t do any direct harm to Lazarus.
He just didn’t do anything.
Which, in a very real sense, means that he did do a whole lot of harm!!!
For to be avoided, overlooked, ignored or unloved is the greatest threat to our survival as a species.
Recently, I was watching a documentary about the importance of relationships.
Perhaps you have seen it or heard of it.
In the documentary, they examined a study where scientists took chimpanzees away from their mother’s at birth, and put them in a cage alone!
At one end of the cage was a cold, mesh-looking thing that held a bottle.
Next to it was a soft, comfortable contraption which had no food, no bottle…but at least it was soft and warm…somewhat inviting, if you will.
Which “substitute mother” do you think the monkey’s chose?
They chose the soft “mother” without the food over the cold one with the food.
As the monkeys grew, they had serious problems.
Old footage showed them cowering in the corner, hardly even able to move as they sucked their thumbs.
It was nearly torturous to watch.
They were in a sort of “living hell” because they had never been loved or held.
A very similar thing happens to human infants, who, in orphanages are provided with food and clothing, but little if any holding and touching.
Yes, the great chasm between heaven and hell is alone-ness.
In Jesus’ parable, the rich man’s sin was not so much 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?
I believe that sometimes, all people need and want is to be noticed.
Sometimes all we need is to know that in the midst of terrible and difficult times, somebody cares!
When we are feeling lonely, there is nothing like a phone call from a friend, just to say, “hello.”
Or when we are feeling a little down, a simple question from a neighbor: “Are you okay?” can make all the difference.
And of course, we’re not okay, but the simple fact that someone took notice of us and asked can lift our spirits.
We can’t weather the storms of life on our own.
We all know how freeing and grace-filled it is to be noticed when it seems our world is caving in all around us.
That is one of the very important things about being “the Church.”
None of us can “go it alone.”
We are not Lone Rangers.
We are created for life in community and we need to walk the Way with others.