“Reading the Bible with the eyes of the poor is a different thing from reading it with a full belly. If it is read in the light of the experiences and hopes of the oppressed, the Bible’s revolutionary themes … come alive.”

Jürgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit, 1977

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“There was a certain rich man who clothed himself in purple and fine linen, and who feasted luxuriously every day. At his gate lay a certain poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. Lazarus longed to eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Instead, dogs would come and lick his sores.

“The poor man died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. While being tormented in the place of the dead, he looked up and saw Abraham at a distance with Lazarus at his side. He shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I’m suffering in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received good things, whereas Lazarus received terrible things. Now Lazarus is being comforted and you are in great pain. Moreover, a great crevasse has been fixed between us and you. Those who wish to cross over from here to you cannot. Neither can anyone cross from there to us.’”

Luke 16:19-26

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Sometimes I wonder how on earth some stories made it into the Bible. Why would Jesus tell a story about a rich man condemned to everlasting torment? Isn’t that a little harsh?

Jesus is all about reversals. The first are last, the last are first. The sinners are called righteous and the righteous, sinners. The poor man is given heavenly blessings, and the man who stored up all his treasures on earth is cast into eternal disappointment. The rich man ignored those like the poor man — people struggling and invisible. The rich man had everything on the outside, but his heart was blind. Jesus cares more about a person’s heart than he does their earthly treasures.

As we go among family and friends, teachers and classmates, remember that love is valued by Jesus more than anything we may gain on earth. When we see people among us suffering, may we show them Jesus’ love. Offer a kind word. Spend time with someone who is different. Listen to a stranger’s story. No matter what our lives look like on the outside, God knows our hearts.

Rebekah Bell

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God who knows my heart, open my eyes today to those who suffer around me. Help me to care more about loving others than making myself great. Amen.

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Go now

With the courage to challenge wrongs.

With unclenched hands to share.

With open lips to talk about God’s goodness.

With open eyes to see God in strangers.

Rebekah Bell

Rebekah Bell is a student at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, GA studying Community Development. She enjoys ministering to children and their families.

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