Thursday, September 23, 2010

September 23, 2010

Every hour 5,417 go to meet their Maker. According to the CIA World Factbook, as of July, 2005, there were approximately 6,446,131,400 people on the planet, and the death rate was approximately 8.78 deaths per 1,000 people a year. According to our nifty desktop calculator, that works out to roughly 56,597,034 people leaving us every year. That's about a 155,000 a day.

Those are rather grim statistics but force us to face a fact of life - death. Everyone who reads this
has had someone very dear stolen from them by death. Since that is true you might find it helpful to understand what happens after the moment of death. That is what we are exploring this week as our series "Happily Ever After?" continues.
I. Death Ends Prosperity And Adversity, Vv. 19-25

"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 hell, 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."

Would it come as a shock to you if I told you that life is not fair? I am pretty sure you have noticed. I like the way Jesus just addresses that head on. Some people have wealth and live in luxury and others suffer under extreme poverty and adversity. So it is in these two characters in the story Jesus told.

Jesus introduces the first character in His little story and he is a very rich person. There is nothing wrong with having wealth and we have no idea how he came by his riches. Perhaps he worked hard and was successful in business. Maybe he inherited it. Possibly he obtained it by illegal or illicit means. We don't know how he got it and for the purposes of this story it really doesn't matter. The point is he lived in luxury and had no need of anything. That was not a problem but his problem was his lack of compassion for people who did not have what they needed.
In contrast to this wealthy man was Lazarus, a man reduced to begging by his poverty and his miserable physical condition. Each day he struggled to place himself where the wealthy man would have to pass by him at least twice a day as he left and came home. Every day the rich man had two opportunities to lift some of the burden of this poor man's suffering. But, apparently, he never did a thing to help. Just as wee have no idea how the Rich Man came by his riches, we don’t know how Lazarus fell upon such dire circumstances. But they illustrate that in our world there are people who prosper and others who suffer the adversity of poverty.

One thing we DO know from this parable is that death ended the prosperity of the Rich Man and the Adversity of Lazarus. Death was the great equalizer as the Rich Man left his wealth behind and Lazarus left his suffering.
Eternity flipped everything. Lazarus, who had nothing in life suddenly had everything! The rich man who had never known want now needed everything. One moment after death eternity imposes justice. A moment after death ushers you into eternity all injustice will cease and you will receive justice.
Each of us have an "ever after". The crucial question is whether our "ever after" will be happy. While it is too late for the rich man and for Lazarus, it is not too late for you. You have the moment but you don't want to wait one moment too long.