Lazarus and the Rich Man
I have noticed that in the readings in much of the Gospel that Jesus’ main focus was preaching to those who said that they believe in His Father.Most times the worst examples of faith and spirituality (Christian spirituality) IS the Christian.I know that in many conversations that I have had with others that tell me they are agnostic or unbelievers that the first thing they tell me is that these church goers treated me horribly, or that these church goers judged me—it always tends to be the fact that the believers are the ones that pull people away from God, and usually it is not God who is to blame.People tend to blame God when they are sick and dying or if some catastrophic condition destroys their home or kills people they love, but even in that point, God is not the one to blame the weather is.
We, as believers, tend to inflict our own downfalls, our own doubts and our own weaknesses onto others—I know I do.I sometimes make it so hard for others, that the judgments I put on them are things that either I struggle with or things that I am downright guilty of. Saint Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, writes:It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to be circumcised, and not only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh. St. Paul is telling us that other believers get the glory for what they are presumably doing for God.I know whenever we preach, we should not bolster about ourselves and always focus on the truth that is Jesus Christ.In this portion of Galatians, Paul is talking about the situation that he was having with the Galatians regarding circumcision, but we could replace those figures in the equation very easily.I know in the Orthodox Church, the leaders of the church feel that they need the glory for ordaining the clergy into the service of the church or that the leaders of the church should glory in the fact that a building was built with the money they invested or raised.All things should be done for the glory of God.I know one thing that has always bothered me has been when people donate money, that they want their names added to the plaque or to the wall to let everyone know who is deserving of the glory, the praise, the fame from the donation. St. Paul continues: But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God. Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen. Who are we glorifying with the glittering gold cup when the donor’s name is on it?Who are we glorifying with the beautiful painting or icon when the donor’s name is below it?Whatever we do we should not let the right hand know what the left hand is doing.We should be giving all the glory to God for all the good thing that He allows us to do, our names should never come out of our lips, but instead we give God the blame for all of the evils of this world, instead of blaming the one who all the evil flows from.
Those individuals who glorify in themselves will get their just reward.Those people whose lights shine brightly inwardly instead of outwardly will receive what they expect—self-glorification leads to self-condemnation.I know that I am a sinner. I know that I am proud and weak.I know that I make mistakes everyday and that all my actions do not glorify God and I hope that what I am writing is not coming off as a judgment but more as an observation.These are the things I have experienced and seen within the churches that supposedly are glorifying God.
In one of Jesus’ parables He talks about a rich man who feasted every day, while a poor man named Lazarus lay dying right outside his door step.Lazarus desired to be fed from the table of the rich man, he wanted to get just a little of what the rich man had.The rich man had glory and wealth and probably praise from others while Lazarus was full of sores and no one wanted anything to do with him.How many times did the rich man and his friends walk by Lazarus and offer him nothing?How many times did they probably say to themselves: thank God I am not like Lazarus! The rich man probably believed, as many do, they were believers in God.He probably paid his taxes, he probable went to the temple, and he probably was faithful to all of the customs— but was missing the heart of the law.
Both men died and both men found themselves in places they were not expecting themselves to be in.The rich man found himself separated from God, while Lazarus found himself in the presence of God, and a great chasm was between them so that the separation was permanent.On earth the rich man had the chance to serve God, but once death comes upon us it is too late.God sends us people who teach us the right path, God sent His own Son to teach us the truth, and we in turn killed them all.We did not accept Jesus’ warning then and we are not accepting it now.How can we confess to be Christians with our lips, but deny Him with our lifestyles, our actions and our selfishness?
Who are we that we have the audacity to judge others when we ourselves have no room to say anything about anyone who Christ sacrificed Himself for?He died for all of us and all of us have the grace and love needed to be saved, but it is up to us to choose that grace and love.We have to accept the fact that He died and rose again and we need to keep in mind that every time we judge another we are taking Christ’s rightful place.Jesus told us that we needed to remove the log from our eye so we could see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.In other words, worry about your own sin, worry about your own downfall and when we become sinless we can help others see the error of their ways.The only problem is that we will never get to the place where we have a pure life in Christ as long as we are alive, all we can do is try to achieve Christ-likeness.And, if we truly achieve the goal of having a Christ centered life, we will not want to judge others, and we will just love them as Jesus does.Once we achieve a Christ centered life, we will pray for those who sin against us and have mercy on those who inflict evil upon us.We will become His representatives here on earth and we will serve Him in truth, justice and humility. We will not worry about others sins and we will focus on our own souls and salvation and in turn we will lead others to Christ.