Dr Justine Toh, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Public Christianity, shares with us a personal reflection on the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, provoking us toward self-reflection and humility.
Am I really listening?
Whose silent cries for help are being crowded out by my responses to the demands of my lifestyle?
In today’s video Rev Keith Jobberns discusses the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
This parable tells the story of a rich man, whose life is focussed on his wealth and lifestyle. Outside the gates to his house lies Lazarus, a poor man who was “covered with sores”. In the story, both men die. After death, the rich man is in pain and separated from relief: his wealth could no longer gain him the comfort he lacked. The true poverty of his self-absorbed lifestyle becomes apparent in this section of the story. Having lived a life where he was distracted by wealth, he missed the opportunity to connect with the values of the Kingdom of God and thus enjoy a truly abundant life. In contrast, Lazarus now receives the comfort he lacked when he lay outside the rich man’s gate and was overlooked.
As we exist in a world where we are bombarded by information and messages from many sources, it is common to become distracted and absorbed by our day to day life. This can leave us with little space to see opportunities to live out the values of God’s Kingdom. In today’s parable, Lazarus lay just outside the rich man’s home: within sight, yet easy to ignore. What are some of the injustices that are within your sight, but are easy to ignore? Who are the hurting people you walk by every day and leave on the outer?
The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus presents us with a pertinent reminder to look outside the busyness and distraction of our lives. It is normal to dwell in a bubble of people and lifestyle. The invitation to participate in God’s Kingdom may be on our doorstep, just outside the bubble.
Engaging with the story:
Create some space this week to re-read the parable. When reading the parable imagine yourself in the story or teaching. Where would you stand? What do your surroundings look like? What can you smell or hear? What would you ask Jesus?
Reflect and Pray:
In today’s world, we are bombarded with messages, media and the busyness of day to day living. What are the things which make up the bubble of your day to day life?
Reflect as a community and as individuals on the questions raised in today’s teaching:
- Are we really listening to the teachings of Jesus?
- How are we, as individuals and as churches, using our wealth?
- Who is it that is lying at my gate? Who is it that I am ignoring in my busy noisy world?
- Who am I ignoring in spite of the fact I know they are hurting? How is my behaviour compounding their pain?
- Whose silent cries for help are being crowded out by my responses to the demands of my lifestyle? Who is it that isn’t even getting the crumbs that are left over from my feasting?
If you think this reflection would encourage someone else, please share:
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Today's Reading: Luke16:19-31
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side.
24 He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’
25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’
27 He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’
29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30
He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
31 He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Rev Keith Jobberns is the National Ministries Director of Australian Baptist Ministries.
This series has been produced by Common Grace and Bible Society Australia.