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Indifference to suffering.......

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Recently the Prime Minister of Great Britain, a staunch conservative, was placed in intensive care in a hospital in London because of the Chinese Corona Virus. He might not survive, but in a blog one British citizen wrote, “Good, he deserves it.”

Why would any human being say this of another human being? I suppose because he disapproves of the Prime Minister’s belief about Brexit, the virus, economics, immigration, etc. But to suggest that he was “glad” about a man’s suffering and probable death is sad. It means that the man does not know God, let alone the love of God. I am willing to make that judgment based upon the Word of God.

In Christ’s parable, the rich man went to eternal place of suffering with no way out, but able to remember how good he once had it. He had a chance to show love and compassion and failed the test. The poor man, obviously loved by God, went to a place of eternal peace and rest.

There is a place of suffering and a place of rest and peace. People don’t like to talk about this, but Jesus sure did. And from what He said, nobody in hell wants to stay there. There are no “zealots” of hell—only folks that wish they could get out.

This rich man was not “mean” to Lazarus, any more than the British citizen was directly mean to PM Johnson—but they were indifferent to the suffering. The rich man probably did not even know that Lazarus existed.

But Jesus noticed the folk like Lazarus, and the crippled, the bent over, the blind, the lepers—and he did not avoid them. He helped them—and so must any of us that claim Christ as our Lord. Quite bluntly, helping someone poor is what a person on their way to heaven does. Ignoring someone poor is what a person on his way to hell does.

We’re not saved by works, but our heart towards the poor and towards “sinners” is a compass to tell us where we are headed. When we are born again we begin to take on the “mind of Christ”. If your mind is no different now than it was prior to your salvation experience, something did not happen—something is wrong.

Saint John would call us liars if we claimed to know God (i.e. we were born from above) and yet failed to love others. Christ said that He would disown us when we attempted to enter into heaven if we failed to show love and compassion for the poor, the sick, the imprisoned and the lowly. Which way are we headed in this nation? Which way are you headed?

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