Summary: How has worldliness and sin clouded our view of other people and their motives? What gentle touches have we missed because our hearts are hardened to God and fellow children of God?
September 26, 2010
18th Sunday after Pentecost
Text Luke 16: 19-31
Grace mercy and peace from God the father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Holy Spirit takes me to some interesting places when I am in the sermon preparation mode. In today’s Gospel the rich man certainly makes himself an easy target. That old remnant of an early 60’s anti establishment radical in me bubbles to the surface. Why that no good narcissistic, self centered, elitist, well dressed, arrogant slob. How dare he treat that poor man that way. The audacity of him to expect Lazarus to cross the chasm and provide him with water to cool his elitist tongue! As I worked on cutting a nasty tree down I mentally went over how I could further condemn this guy, analogies flew right and left with applications of law flowing freely.
It’s easy to confess another man’s sins.
As I was hauling the brush from the tree to my burn pile I stopped for gas and a cold soda at a gas station near the “projects.” As I rolled the windows up and locked my truck to protect my “stuff” from all the unsavory characters, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I am the elitist here, I caught myself thinking “ What a bunch of “riff raff” lazy “crack heads.” Get a job loser! The cross made of nails that I wear around my neck brought me back to reality.
And I visited the “Roman road.” Romans 3:23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, I have sinned. I have lived for self, I am no different. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. I deserve death for I have offended God. Jesus through His life, death resurrection and ascension has assured me of eternal life. 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He took me as I am dents, scratches, imperfections galore. If He waited for me to clean up my act, I would still be on the outside looking in. 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10:13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Let’s be clear here --this prayer doesn’t save us -- Jesus saves, the prayer is evidence of that salvation. No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:3)
Romans 12: Deals with becoming not only a believer but a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is not simply one who merely changes moral behavior in regards to the teachings of Jesus Christ, but in response to God’s work in him or her seeks a fundamental shift toward the ethics of Jesus Christ in every way. We do not view Jesus as a new Moses, another law giver. We obey because the Holy Spirit has written the law on our hearts. The only thing we can boast about is Christ. (2 Cor. 10:17)
Earlier I said that the Holy Spirit takes me to some interesting places. The text states that Lazarus was covered with sores and the dogs came and licked these sores. My first reaction as a pharmacist, steeped in aseptic technique is, YUCK. Where were those tongues licking before they started on the sores? I personally tend to retch when I see a dog licking someone -- especially on the face. Wikipedia, however, was able to enlighten me. There is even a big name and a field of study dealing with wound licking called Zoopharmacognosy. The article states that the licking can clean the wound and accelerate healing. Without getting into biochemistry, that I have long forgotten, the saliva contains a number of components that have been shown to act against infection and to promote wound healing. There are interesting mechanisms for this proposed --read the article if you wish to pursue more scientific speculation.
I prefer to look at this from the aspect of God’s Grace to one of His children. The dogs are comforting Lazarus in his time of suffering. A gentle smooth touch, an antiseptic, a cleaning of tissue, a presence, possibly warmth - figuratively -- a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus.
Thanks again to the Holy Spirit, I now see “YUCK” as God’s loving touch.
I am not quite ready to let the dogs bite me when I take my walk but I will view this licking thing from a different perspective. Isn’t that what discipleship is -- seeing things from Christ’s perspective -- from His ethical position? I have to ask what other perspectives do we need to change? How has worldliness and sin clouded our view of other people and their motives. What gentle touches have we missed because our hearts are hardened to God and fellow children of God?