Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lazarus and the Rich Man


There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire."

But Abraham replied, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us."

He answered, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment."

Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them."

"No, father Abraham," he said, "but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent."

He said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

~Jesus

Some thoughts:

It is interesting that for many of our homeless and marginalized brothers and sisters, they are forced into a life of wandering anonymity whilst the rich are celebrated and honored, but Jesus here names and welcomes the poor man and leaves the wealthy one anonymous.

The rich man is not condemned as evil or a non-believer, it just notes that he is rich and literally outside his gate, the poor were literally suffering and dying.

The rich man appeals for Lazarus' help, after apparently ignoring Lazarus all those years.

There is no help forthcoming, because there is a "chasm" that had been set in place... one can't help wonder: Who set the chasm in place? Could it be that this is the rich man's own chasm that he had separated himself?

The rich man was worried about his presumably also-wealthy family, that they might suffer the same fate as he did.

Whatever your thoughts about the Bible, this is a great story - powerful, moving, tragic and compelling. 

21 comments:

Marshall Art said...

Not condemned as evil? Hades was a vacation then? He obviously did something wrong with his life. Ignoring want in his fellow man is certainly the implied infraction.

"It is interesting that for many of our homeless and marginalized brothers and sisters, they are forced into a life of wandering anonymity whilst the rich are celebrated and honored..."

It could be, perhaps, due to the accomplishments that resulted in their wealth; not simply because of their wealth. Indeed, most actors are lauded for their acting ability. Most athletes for their athletic success. Most wealthy for the businesses they built and the benefits to society those businesses brought about.

Thus, I must once again relate a little true story. Due to my father-in-law having died of ALS, a neighbor who is a banker (his daughter is best friends with one of mine), invited our whole family (8-10 people...don't recall if bro-in-law attended) to a major fundraiser for ALS in downtown Chicago at a very swanky hotel. Celebs were in attendance. VERY wealthy people bought in. They held a silent auction and other fund raising activities. Within four hours, they raised over $500K. I heard that a more recent event doubled that. This event is one of several this banker friend attends and this is true of the wealthy there. They put their wealth to work on behalf of all sorts of causes. They do it willingly and eagerly, with many spending a big chunk of their free time hosting and attending events such as these because they WANT to share what they worked so hard to create.

I know this story conflicts with your "wealth bad--simple living good" meme. But it is far more typical than those like yourself would like to hear.

Dan Trabue said...

Point of fact:

I have not said that wealth equals bad. I've pointed to biblical passages that suggest that wealth can be a terrible trap that leads to oppression and detachment and said that I can see how that is a reasonable thing to watch out for.

Marshall Art said...

You point to passages in support of the concept of wealth avoidance. I refer you once again to those who not only accumulate wealth, but use it for all manner of beneficial purpose. To those given much ability in the area of wealth creation, much is expected of them to use that ability to help others.

Marshall Art said...

Have you closed comment on your "A Post For Marshall" post? I cannot seem to publish any more comments. This suggests something problematic indeed. I'm hoping it is a technical issue and not a purposeful dodge.

Dan Trabue said...

I have closed no comments.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

You point to passages in support of the concept of wealth avoidance.

I point to passages like Lazarus' story and the many others to point out the dangers that may accompany wealth and opulence (ie, hyperconsumption).

These are real dangers examples of which I can point to in the real world. Too much driving of personal autos and too much unrestrained burning of fossil fuels, for instance, results in harmful pollution. This pollution hurts us all, but tends to cause more harm to the poorest, the sickest, the oldest and the youngest.

Just as a point of fact, based upon research.

What is the problem with that?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

I refer you once again to those who not only accumulate wealth, but use it for all manner of beneficial purpose.

Never said otherwise. What of it?


To those given much ability in the area of wealth creation, much is expected of them to use that ability to help others.

Never said otherwise. What of it?

Marshall Art said...

"To those given much ability in the area of wealth creation, much is expected of them to use that ability to help others.

Never said otherwise. What of it?"


You don't live it. I once asked you if you had the ability to make more income than you currently do, and you said yes, but you prefer "simple living". So, you have been given much ability to create wealth but don't feel any expectation to use it. In the meantime, you have used the verse (to whom much is given) in reference to things such as progressive taxation. It's hypocritical to dare expect much from those who developed wealth, or even to say that God might expect of them, but you ignore what God has given you in the way of ability to create wealth yourself, giving you not only the ability to really do good for those in need, but also room to dare speak of what other wealthy do or should do.

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, I misread your comment. So, revisiting it, you said...

To those given much ability in the area of wealth creation, much is expected of them to use that ability to help others.

I don't know that there are "those who are given much in the area of wealth creation..." The Bible says, "to those who are given much." Period. "much is expected." Period.

We could just as easily say, "To those who are given the ability to live simply, much is expected in simple living," could we not?

I guess, if one feels called to pursue wealth creation for the express purpose of wealth sharing, good on them. I don't have a problem with that.

I feel no such call and, indeed, feel the better part of wisdom is in pursuing a simpler life, not a more wealthy one because, as the bible repeatedly notes, there is danger in the desire to create much wealth, it is a trap to be wary of.

Marshall Art said...

I like how you alter the concept of "to whom much is given" even more than you already have to support progressive taxation, to deny your own obligation to use that which you admit to having been given. The verse refers to what has been given to believers as regards their knowledge and understanding of the will of God. You use it to suggest that those who have busted their behinds to accomplish must then be taxed more heavily after exerting the effort. In a real sense, if one wishes to pervert the verse as you do, it applies more to the talents given to each of us than it does to the results or products of having used those talents. The wealthy have manifested expectations of the wealth creating ability they've been given. You haven't. You abdicate your responsibility in favor of a lifestyle you prefer.

Said another way, if one is given knowledge of the will of God and His Gospel, one is expected to live accordingly to whatever extent that implies. If one is given the knowledge and ability to create wealth, or really any talent or ability, is one to deny it or waste it? I don't see how that works. One is throwing away what God has provided.

Why this is especially problematic is due to your constant insistence that progressive taxation is fair and moral, with that taxed money going to do whatever it is you insist is a righteous goal, without employing your own talents to achieve wealth that can be taxed at that high rate, thereby producing even more toward those goals. If you're not willing to put forth the effort to earn, it is covetous at the least to insist that those who have must support giving away more of what THEY earned to satisfy what YOU think are righteous goals for OUR tax dollars.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

If one is given the knowledge and ability to create wealth, or really any talent or ability, is one to deny it or waste it?

And if one is given the grace and ability and wisdom to live simply, is one to deny or waste it?

Marshall Art said...

That's a mighty fancy way of saying you're not willing to expend the effort to utilize the talent God gave you, assuming you actually have it, and not simply saying you do in order to cover the fact that you don't. At this point, I wouldn't wager one way or the other. The implications of your question are many and staggering.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Again I have taken the time to post a comment on that thread devoted to me below, and again the comments are not posting. Do you have some moderation thing happening on that thread? I don't have the time to continually submit my arguments.

Marshall Art said...

The above published immediately with no problem. What's the deal?

Dan Trabue said...

My comments are set to "turn off" after a month, and we've reached that point. They were still there and I posted them.

For whatever reason, though, I'm not getting a notice of when you post them (whereas I am for other people, Bubba and Craig, for instance). I don't know why.

I feel like I have to have that "no comments after 30 days" on, otherwise, my old posts would fill up with spam, so I'll try to keep a watch on it for new posts from you...

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

That's a mighty fancy way of saying you're not willing to expend the effort to utilize the talent God gave you, assuming you actually have it, and not simply saying you do in order to cover the fact that you don't.

Again, what if my gift is simple living? I'm asking you a direct and simple question. On what basis should I abandon the call and gift to live simply? Your say so?

Come on, get serious.

Marshall Art said...

"Simple living" isn't a talent or ability. There is nothing that demands that you spend any wealth you create on yourself beyond what you now spend. That is, if you possess the ability to create more wealth than you're now creating, you could do all the things you do now AND donate as much of your earnings as you want.

As such, I totally reject as the lame BS it is that you label simple living a "call" and "gift". It's worthless self-promotion. A part of your marketing plan to posture yourself as "Christian". "Hey! Look at me! See how I shun wealth? I'm so freakin' holy!"

Dan Trabue said...

Well, you are certainly welcome to your opinion and you have the freedom to make those sorts of choices for your life. I'll expect you to have the decency and grace to extend the same respect to others.

Dan Trabue said...

I, obviously, disagree with your opinions. Sorry.

Dan Trabue said...

Do you also mock the Amish, the Mennonites and other simple living advocates as "lame BS..."?

If so, why the graceless cynicism?

Marshall Art said...

You should not speak of grace in light of your too often graceless misrepresentations of my positions and intentions. Indeed, right here you speak of "cynicism", as if facing reality indicates such.

But no, I don't bother with the Amish or anyone else when my comments deal directly with you and the blatant inconsistencies of your alleged "call" and how you respond to the world in which you live. I don't know that the Amish or Mennonites, for example, call for heavy taxes on the most productive while living their "simple" lives.

And frankly, I don't see anything "simple" about purposely living without the use of modern conveniences. I also don't see any nobility in such a "call" that would immediately be rejected in times of emergency.