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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

A Caring Church: An Unbearable Disaster

By George O. Wood
Nov. 14, 2010

Do you remember Jesus’ story of the man who never noticed his poor neighbor (Luke 16:19-31)?

He’s simply identified as a rich man. He lived in daily luxury, well protected by the gate leading to his mansion, insulated from the needs of others. He wore purple and linen clothes — the expensive designer clothes of the day.

In contrast, a beggar was laid daily at his gate. There on the dirt ground, this poor man grubbed as best he could for a handout. Famished, he wished to eat the leftovers from the rich man’s table. Dogs came and licked his sores.

But the rich man never saw him, never stopped to help him.

Jesus gives a most surprising twist to the story. The rich man has no name, but the beggar is identified as Lazarus. Wait a minute! In life everyone knew the rich man’s name, but who even knew the beggar’s?

God! That’s who!

I wonder if we pass by people just as the rich man did.

The panhandler at the stoplight has a name. The undocumented person has a name. Instead, we know them by their categories.

The same with the disadvantaged, the homeless, victims of abuse, orphans, the poor. Do we know people by their categories or by their names? Are we more interested in status or salvation, more concerned to punish than to help?

There is a world of woe all around us. We may not be able to do everything, but we can do something for someone.

A survivor of Russian gulags, Alexander Solzhenitsyn compared bearable to unbearable disasters. A bearable disaster, he said, was if something small happens to us nearby (like a sick pet) or something big happens over there (millions of orphans). In our emotions, they’re equally weighted because the bigger tragedy happens far away, and we don’t feel it.

For the rich man, Lazarus was a bearable disaster because his own life was not affected by the beggar’s plight. From Jesus’ point of view, Lazarus’ plight should have been an unbearable disaster that motivated the rich man to help him.

Let’s avoid the callousness of the rich man and instead have eyes to see those in need, hands to help, and a heart that cares.

George O. Wood
General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God

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