“Rich but Poor”
September 25th 2016
Introduction: Let’s recap what we know from the story. Lazarus(or Eleazer, which means, God is my help) died and he didn’t come back to life as in the story from the Gospel of John. That is because the name Eleazer or Lazarus is a common name at the time Jesus tells this story and this is perhaps another person by the same name as the one in John’s Gospel. I am certain from the way Jesus tells the story that this Lazarus did not want to come back to this life! His life here had been a living hell to be sure. Father Abraham holds and comforts him in heaven, as Jesus tells us the story.
In life, Lazarus had lain in the street outside the home of a rich man, (some commentaries give us his name as Dives, in Latin). Jesus tells us that stray dogs licked his sores. Dives walked by Lazarus every day, and ignored him! Dives lived the good life, wearing the best of clothing(possibly the High Priest because of what he is wearing). Dives eats the best food available and not just once a week but every meal every day. When Dives dies, he wakes up in hell. Jesus is very specific here that Dives woke up in a torment of flames. And he looked up to heaven, (who doesn’t, when they are in hell) and he is able to see Lazarus in Father Abraham’s arms. He calls out for Lazarus to bring him some water. Father Abraham says, “No.”
Dives begs for Lazarus to go warn his brothers. Abraham again says, “No.” If they wouldn’t listen to Isaiah and Jeremiah and Elijah, they certainly wouldn’t listen to Lazarus. Dives at least cares about his family.
Ex. The older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son, did not do this. According to Jesus, family love is not enough for salvation. The two stories: the one about the prodigal who became a filthy, ragged man, completely out of luck and money, whose elder brother did not want him to come home; and this story, about a similar sufferer ignored by a man who had it all worldly speaking, follow each other, one chapter apart in the Gospel of Luke.
What can these two stories, and this one in particular, teach us about what it takes to build for peace in the world? Today is the International Day of Prayer for Peace.
Ill. In the U.S., the wealthiest nation in the world, 14.5 percent, or 49 million people, struggle to put food on the table. 15.9 million of these hungry ones, are children(these statistics from Bread for the World). Please keep in mind that this is in our country, yours and mine, and I dare say that many of us never really think about it very much because we have plenty to eat. Who here today is the rich man from the story and who is the poor man? To be sure we do have food pantries and we do give food to the soup kitchen, Our Daily Bread, once a month. I hear Jesus in this story urging us to do more!
I.) Our God is a God of peace
A.) We must rest in his love.
1. At the heart of all that we are and all that we do, we need to know that we are dearly loved by our God.
2. The knowledge of this love ought to motivate us to share it with everyone we meet.
3. The hungry, the poor, the down and out, the ones struggling with injustice and strife, the refugee.
4. The first building block for peace in my way of thinking is really simple, it is knowing that God loves us, loves me, loves you, loves all of his children everywhere!
B.) We are called by God to share his love.
1. Be honest with yourself and in God’s presence right now, there are people that we find it hard to love.
2. People who look different than we do, or maybe dress different, or have a different lifestyles or even a different language than ours.
3. The Bible that I read tells me two things, first, God loves everyone the same as he loves me, and second, as God’s child, I am to love them too!
4. In so doing we can actually build for peace, if we are truly willing to live out the golden rule!
5. To treat others the same way we wish to be treated.
6. To allow the love of God in our hearts to be expressed to everyone we know and meet.
II.) Our world, our communities, and our hearts
A.) We desire peace
1. I believe we fall short of our desired goal because we set our human limits on peace.
2. God, the perfect being knows and gives true peace and it go far beyond what we believe to be possible.
3. God’s peace is truly amazing with no limitation placed upon it
4. Yet we truly do desire peace.
B.) Take our hands off it and let it be what God intends it to be for all people and all of creation.
1. Allow for the Holy Spirit to indwell us and take complete control.
2. In every aspect and at every moment of our lives with HS help and guidance we can know true peace.
3. This means one very important thing, we must allow self to be crucified and Christ Jesus to reign in our hearts completely.
4. This is the journey we are on, never completely achieving it in this life time and yet working for it in every aspect of our living.
5. The second building block for peace, is to allow the Holy Spirit of God to have complete control of our lives, this is easier said than done to be sure.
III.) Instruments of peace
A.) It is really simple but very difficult to achieve
1. We have God’s Word to use as our guide.
2. We have the Spirit’s guidance if we will but follow and be faithful.
3. The struggle is within us.
4. We may say we want peace and justice for all people everywhere and for all of creation but do we really mean it?
5. I believe we do, but in order for it to happen, Christ Jesus must reign supreme in our total being!
Ill. As a child and a youth I tried very hard to learn how to play an instrument. I first tried the violin. It sounded a lot like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Then I tried the trumpet. There was no where in the house that I grew up in that I could practice that I didn’t make our dog howl. That one didn’t last very long to say the least. My final attempt at playing an instrument was the guitar. I poured myself into lessons and practice. I even became a rhythm guitarist for a garage band that met in our basement. We actually played four high school dances. I did ok with the guitar but really never fell in love with playing it. I discovered that my fingers are short and making cords was difficult to say the least. It wasn’t until I realized the I was the instrument, my life was the instrument, and God was the musician and together we could make music for his glory and his kingdom of peace.
6. This use of my life as an instrument is the third building block for peace that I want us to consider today.
Conclusion to message: Three building blocks which if taken to heart can truly change the world. Love, God’s perfect love, demonstrated in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus. The Holy Spirit dwelling within us, giving us peace and using us as the third building block, instruments, instruments for true and lasting peace in the hearts and lives of all of God’s children and indeed all of God’s creation.
Let’s pray: Loving God of peace, Help us to rest in your love and know that we are your beloved children of God. Children called to love. Children called to build peace. Our world, our communities, and our hearts desire peace but we often fall so short of your desires and hopes for us. May we follow you in word and deed to be instruments of your peace and vessels of your justice. Amen.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts”(Col. 3:15) now and always.