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    Sep 29, 2019

    Are You Seeing Anything Here?

    Are You Seeing Anything Here?

    Passage: 1 Timothy 6:6-19

    Speaker: Chris Schaefer

    Series: All

    Category: All

    When Jerry and I were first married, I worked full-time while he was finishing college. Money was very tight. It was a time when your Coke bottles were glass and you returned them to the grocery store for money. Now for a newly married couple with very limited funds this was like a savings account. I would keep our Coke bottles in the front closet in our one-bedroom apartment and I knew when we ran out of money that was our stash. We would take a car full of bottles to the grocery store and usually get enough money to buy some hamburger meat, spaghetti, and tomato sauce and make enough spaghetti and meatballs for the week. No money, lots of contentment. We were truly rich.

    Being rich!  Is it how much money we have?  Is it how we spend it? All three readings plus the Psalm today deal with the use or rather the misuse of money.  Last week we heard about the dishonest manager and the landowner’s money, a difficult and confusing reading and then this week we hear an equally difficult reading. This week, we struggle to figure out where WE belong in the readings. Who are we?

    Are we the rich man in Luke’s gospel? Or are we Lazarus? In 1 Timothy, are we content, knowing that we came into this world with nothing and we will be leaving it with nothing? Or, are we trapped by senseless and harmful desires?

    Are we the ones who lie on beds of ivory and lounge on our couches as in the reading from Amos? Or are we like “the Lord” who gives justice to the oppressed, food for the hungry, and cares for the stranger as in Psalm 146?

    All the readings contain warnings or guidance regarding the use of our riches. These warnings could set us back on our heels. Where do we fit in ? And what is Luke and also Paul trying to say here?

    Well, don’t you know “Money is the root of all evil”.  Well, first of all NO it isn’t. As this is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. It is “the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil.”   It is the love of it not the money itself! How could a $100 bill be evil or good? It is what we do with it. But back in those days of the glass Coke bottles in my front closet I sure would have LOVED an extra $100 bill, but that didn’t make me love money.

    You could say these readings are about the rich and the poor. How we should give to the poor and that is definitely something these readings are telling us. But there is more….

    You could say, this parable is about the rich man getting what was coming to him. But there is more…

    You could say it is about what the afterlife and hell are like? But there is more…

    And here is the more!

    The rich man didn’t get it when he was alive and then when he could look back from Hades he still didn’t get it. But we have to! And this is what we need to realize. We are neither Lazarus NOR the rich man. We ARE the rich man’s brothers. We need to SEE! 

    We are the ones that need to be warned. Warned about what? Because I’m pretty sure that if we saw someone in need, laying at the gate to our house, we would surely help them and NOT simply step over them. Right?

    In life the rich man ignored Lazarus, pretended not to SEE Lazarus although the rich man had to have seen his body or he would have tripped right over him. But maybe he went out the back gate or crossed the street to avoid him.  Have you ever crossed a street to avoid someone? Have you ever averted your eyes to make sure you don’t have to SEE that street person or any person you want to avoid? Are you SEEING anything here? Are you feeling warned?

    Then in death, we realize that the rich man was indeed aware of Lazarus. Aware enough that he knew Lazarus' name when he was telling Abraham what Lazarus should do for him. But now instead of ignoring him, he treats him like a servant. He asked Abraham to have Lazarus bring him a drink of water and then he wanted Lazarus to be his messenger boy to talk to his brothers.  

    The rich man never actually speaks to Lazarus. He never treats Lazarus as a human being, no less a fellow Man of God! He never saw him as his equal. He never looked to reach across the table to Lazarus instead he saw him as one who was under the table looking for the scraps. Would you sit with Lazarus at the table? Would you even touch him? Would you look into his eyes and SEE Jesus Christ? Are you SEEING anything here? Are you feeling warned?

    The rich man for all his purple robes and sumptuous feasts, with a house that was big enough to have a gate had no clue. What he possessed, all his stuff, all his love of money did nothing for him. Because he couldn’t SEE through all that stuff.  

    I think Abraham knows that the rich man couldn’t SEE because he calls the rich man “Child”. Someone who doesn’t know or understand things is often described as a child. All this stuff didn’t give the rich man the contentment that Paul talks about in 1 Timothy. Stuff, we have lots of it! Is our stuff blocking our view?  Keeping us from SEEING? Are you seeing anything here? Are you feeling warned?

    We use gates to keep people and things out. But really, think about it, aren’t our gates keeping us in? We are closed in, thinking it will provide us contentment, enjoyment and even security. We keep our gates closed against a world that could scare us. Are you SEEING anything here? Are you feeling warned?

    We need to open our gates! We are the ones that need to SEE Lazarus at our gates. We need to SEE what we are blind to!  All the people we keep at arm’s length. All the people we do not realize we don’t SEE as our equals!  All our stuff that we can’t SEE around or through!  

    It is about being RICH in God. It is SEEING we find our contentment in God! 

    Ask yourself what defines you? Is it your money? Is it your clothes? Is it your stuff? Or, do you define yourself as the man or woman of God that fights the good fight of faith? Do we see those at our gates also as men and women of God? 

    We find our contentment, when we are doing good for others, when we SEE the other as an equal, when we are using our riches to be generous, when we are ready to share of ourselves, when our stuff doesn’t block our view. If we understand this! If we SEE this! We will understand what the rich man was trying to tell his brothers. We will be content with all that God has given us. We will set our hopes on all God has given us for our enjoyment. We will enjoy sharing with each other as we will this afternoon at our picnic. Our gates will be wide open.  

    We CAN fight the good fight of faith with love, endurance and gentleness. Because unlike what Abraham said at the end of the parable, we HAVE been convinced by the one who rose from the dead.

    Amen

    Photo by Marc Fulgar on Unsplash