Luke 16:19–31 ‘”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.”’ (vv30–31
‘The devil makes work for idle hands’ is first recorded in the fourth century by Jerome, and in English in Chaucer’s ‘Tale of Melibeus’, in the Canterbury Tales, around 1400.* Idleness always creates space for wayward behaviour. Today this idleness is measured by failure to take action. How long Lazarus sat in poverty and pain at the rich man’s gate we don’t know, but for quite some time I imagine – as if he was invisible to all who stepped over him entering the house.
Two things to note. First, God dignifies the beggar with a name but the rich man finds his identity in his wealth rather than who God created him to be. Do we want to be known by achievement or character? Second, let’s not miss missional opportunities.
In the UK, Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, West Sussex fire chief, spent many years on the streets of Newport homeless, where she found the most painful part was the public ignoring her as they walked past, as if she didn’t exist. She says, ‘If you could do one thing as a person tomorrow, it would be to have a conversation if you see someone who is experiencing homelessness.
Make eye contact, say hello, have a conversation because it makes someone feel human again.’** Serving God, we seek to dignify every image bearer of God and our minimum contribution is perhaps a smile. We don’t judge, but become a sign of God’s presence. Mission always starts in our own backyard.
Scripture to consider: Prov. 19:1–17; Zech. 7:4–14; Acts 1:1–10; Rom. 12:9–21.
An action to take: We all see people in need as we walk through our community. Practise smiling, quietly praying and, when prompted, saying hello or offering some assistance. Let’s build community together.
A prayer to make: ‘Lord, open my eyes to see my neighbourhood as You see it. Amen.’
Photo by Giuseppe Argenziano on Unsplash