THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
Reverend William T. Martin
Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church
Recently, I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for a work conference. As I left the hotel complex that hosted the conference. As I left the hotel conference that hosted the conference, I saw a gentleman who was hungry and asking for money to buy food. He approached me as I was walking down the sidewalk and inquired if I had any money. I told him I did not have any money, but that I was heading to the Waffle House a couple of blocks away and that he was more than willing to join me. He obliged and we started our journey together.
As we walked in the heart of downtown Atlanta, he opened up and started to share his life experience. In that ten-minute walk from the hotel to the Waffle House, I learned much about this gentleman. His name was Anthony and he was originally from Roanoke. He had relocated to Atlanta about twenty years ago and recently fell upon hard times and was striving to get back on his feet. He did not have any family in Atlanta but had family in North Carolina and Virginia. He asked me about my profession and told him that I was in full-time ministry. He explained that he loved God and loved going to church. However, he had not been to church in quite some time. His reason for not going was that when it came to the sermon, he found himself falling asleep in the middle of service, and he did not want to be viewed as being disrespectful to the pastor and to the congregation. When we arrived at the Waffle House, he ordered two meals, one to eat there and one to-go for later. I paid for his meals; he expressed appreciation and then went his way.
I sat in that Waffle House and the Scripture came to mind: “But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate” (Luke 16:20 NKJV). This verse, at the beginning of the parable, reminds us that the poor and those who are seeking justice are closer to us in proximity than we often think. They are in our neighborhoods and in our communities. They lie at our gate. Just like the rich man, we are given two choices. We can choose to see and acknowledge our fellow brothers’ and sisters’ plights and do something about it; or we can choose to ignore them. Justice requires us to lay aside prejudices and ignorance and serve others for the greater good. Justice calls us to pay attention.
That day in Atlanta, I chose to see Anthony. My life was incredibly enriched because of our encounter. As we encounter the Lazaruses and Anthonys of the world, may we make the choice to acknowledge them as they lie at our gates.
• The poor and those who are seeking justice are closer in proximity than we often think, and they often lie at our gate. Who in your proximity is struggling?
• We all have biases, judgments, and prejudices. How have yours blocked you from helping “the least of these”? Is it difficult for you to move past them? Why or why not?
• Justice calls us to open our eyes and pay attention. What does serving the least of these look like for you