Yesterday, after I finished typing up my blog, I walked downtown to surprise my husband at the church where he volunteers to cook and serve the homeless and low income every Friday.
When I walked in the volunteers had finished cooking and the pastor was doing a devotional before everyone started to serve the guests food. The pastor said, “All of you just told me what you think heaven will be like, now, what does the Bible say?”
The pastor went on to talk about angels singing, and saints being present, but then he mentioned Lazarus. In the Bible, Lazarus, is a beggar that is covered in sores and begs outside the temple.
Every day a rich man passed Lazarus in fine linen and things. Lazarus longs to eat the droppings from the rich man’s table. Both Lazarus and the rich man die. The rich man is in agony while Lazarus is comforted.
The rich man asks Lazarus to dip his finger in water and put it on the rich man’s tongue to help relieve his pain. Abraham tells the rich man that there is a chasm between the two that no one can cross and to remember that while the rich man had everything in life, Lazarus had nothing. The rich man then begs Abraham to let him go to warn his brothers while they are still living about what happens after death so they won’t suffer the same fate.
Before we started to serve the guests, the pastor said, “Think about this while you are serving the people who came here to eat and drink today.”
I always love a good story. Stories open up my heart and my mind. I really love a story that contains justice, but this story hit me hard, because most of us could be seen as the rich man who can eat and drink whatever s/he wants while others around us are suffering and have to beg for the food they eat.
Yesterday, I served coffee to those who have to carry what they own in a shopping cart, backpack, or in trash bags. I said good morning to each and every one of them. I looked them in the eye. I treated them with all the respect that I would treat the mayor, or the CEO of a company. I saw past their dirty clothes and dirty skin. There are only a few things that separate them from me, and most of it has to do with money.
I realized that money is a thin veil – it doesn’t define our humanity or worth. It can be lost, stolen, or spent. We can all find ourselves in need.
I don’t look down on people living in the streets. I meet their eyes, because in all the ways that matter we are equal. None of us will escape death, and I don’t have any idea what heaven looks like or what it will be like, but I know what being treated with dignity is like, and I know it doesn’t cost me anything to treat everyone that way – beggar or king.