“He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:31 Most of you are familiar with the story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:16-31. As a missionary working primarily among the poor we see many of these truths in this story.
I see this relationship between the rich and poor lived out every day. Sometimes I hardly notice but there are many days when I am moved by the obvious disparity.
The poor have no rights in a society where power, title and wealth are the things that give authority. But the spirit of impunity and injustice is really not unique….sin and the depravity of man has plagued humanity since the Garden. I do find this text to be a powerful example for me of God’s providence and sovereign work among all peoples, rich and poor!
Among other things I find that God is not a respecter of the economic condition among men. This is both comforting and perplexing because while this truth brings great hope I am faced with the shocking thought that Lazarus lived and died in abject poverty literally begging for crumbs off the rich man’s table! For those of us who are accustomed to believing that God helps those who help themselves this very well might be a an uncomfortable realization. We’re told in the text that the rich man was given that which was ‘good’ on earth while Lazarus received that which was ‘bad’. If God is in fact sovereign over the affairs of all things then I must deduce that God gave the rich man his wealth and put Lazarus at the rich man’s gate in temporal misery. And in case you wonder how miserable Lazarus was remember how perverse it would be for a dog to lick your wounds in the Jewish mind of Jesus’ day! While I respond in compassion to the plight of the poor around me I live within the context of God’s providential Hand in establishing each of our places here on earth. There is the jolting reality of death and the truth of eternity vividly portrayed as we see the great comfort Lazarus finds at Abraham’s side while the rich man suffers in perpetual anguish in Hell. Death is the great equalizer on the landscape of eternity. I am thankful that Cambodians have little trouble talking about death since it is such a common and public occurrence. It is sobering to consider the seared soul of the rich man in Jesus story. Consider that in spite of his damnable condition he remains unrepentant in his sins and even has the audacity to ask that Lazarus serve him by bringing him some water! Compare this with the place of Lazarus. He is ushered to the side of Abraham by the angels and has found complete respite from all of his previous worldly distress. What a powerful picture for those we work with here in Cambodia! Perhaps the most startling truth is found in Abraham’s response to the rich man’s request that someone be sent to warn his brothers of their impending fate. A miracle performed for the benefit of the spiritually dead is of no use….the only hope is found in Scripture. This is God’s redemptive plan….the Gospel preached to those who have not heard. How tempted I am to think otherwise!
I am grateful that Scripture remains timeless in its’ scope and application for all of us. We covet your prayers as press forward in the ministry here in Cambodia. As you pray please remember to pray for the following:
· Physical and Spiritual sustenance for all of the Shalom Mission to Cambodia churches and pastors
· Wisdom and discernment as we look to the sufficiency of Scripture in all matters pertaining to ministry and family
· Strength for Jodi while I travel to Calgary, Canada for meetings with ACTION March 19-April 02.
· Pray for the ongoing ministry of BJ and Andrea with Mordecai’s Courage
· For Nathan (and Christiana) as he finishes up school and graduates from The Master’s Seminary in May
· Pray with Beth and the girls she shepherds at Asian Hope
· Continue to pray with Jennifer Duff as she raises support for service here in Cambodia
· We’re thankful that Jodi’s mom, Jackie, has arrived for a visit; pray on her behalf for good health and a rich time with our family
· Sustained health for our entire clan; we’ve been battling a “bug” of some sort for several weeks now
We value your partnership with us in ways that are impossible to express but suffice to say we need your ongoing prayers and support!
In His Bonds,