Friday, September 24, 2010

Hell to pay!

When I read through the story of the Rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 it seems to me that the message is pretty clear. Help out the less fortunate or there will be hell to pay. In the context of Jesus' repeated teaching on loving neighbour and his constant reminder about coming to serve rather than being served this parable strikes a somewhat harsher note. A bit more confrontational. Possibly a reminder that there is a limit to even God's good grace.

There are other things at work in this parable also. For instance, the fact that the rich man never accepts or admits to being responsible for his own actions. There is no demonstrated repentance and even his requests on behalf of his six surviving brothers (maybe we should call this "The Parable of the Six Brothers") are unclear. Does he want the Lord to go back to warn them of hell or to confront them about their lifestyles?

Finally one more point of interest. Lazarus is the only character named in this story. There is an irony here. For though every aspect of his physical condition that is detailed in the parable would be understood by Jesus' listeners to be signs of God's punishment upon this hapless person, his name means "God helps". It seems to me there is a lesson here also. A reminder that even in the midst of what may seem to us to be hell on earth, God is present. Something else to think about.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lost sheep...lost coin...lost opportunities!

Among the themes of Luke 15:1-10 we find the 'seeking' God and the idea that the loss of just one spoils the beauty and completeness of the whole. Factors we should keep in mind when wondering where God may be in a given situation or when deciding whether or not to continue working with someone whom God has brought into our life. Just as the shepherd and the woman in our stories never gave up looking for that which was lost until it was found so God continues to come for us...seeking us out...never surrendering to despair or hopelessness. The thought also of the how the loss of one affects the whole helps prevent us from placing ourselves in judgment over others. For every person we exclude from the kingdom takes away from the kingdom. It seems that there is a good argument for being inclusive rather than exclusive.

Friday, September 03, 2010

When I can't...can God?

Some thoughts on Luke 14:25-33...

Somebody should speak to Jesus about his recruiting methods. Using shame and sacrifice as basic considerations for discipleship and following him are particularly jarring to us today. Why doesn't he emphasize the feel-good, helping others aspect of the work??? Is it because he is deliberately trying to make the task of discipleship impossible for us? Does he want us to reach the point where we admit to ourselves that we cannot achieve the standards or make the sacrifices he requires of us? So many times in my life when I finally realize that I cannot do what God requires and stop trying, then God is able to act and show me how in his grace and power I am enabled, empowered, and equipped as his disciple.