Welcome to our online Bible study on Luke!
Read: Luke 16:19-31
Everywhere we roam, people greet us with smiles and hellos in French. Three or four children run up to us and grab our hands as we walk. We rarely sojourn alone. The smiles on their faces are a stark contrast to the extreme poverty people in Haiti live in every day.
No running water or electricity, little food and sleeping on the dirt ground.
Mamas carry naked babies in their bosom while goats dash around nearby looking for a patch of greenery in the parched land.
They have nothing. Nothing to offer but their smiles and hellos.
I smile back. I am undone. Guilt engulfs me like a tidal wave.
It’s been almost a week since I returned home. The re-entry to normal life seems so abnormal. No strangers smiling and saying hello. Our culture teaches us that our external appearances and circumstances matter. If you are successful and wealthy, you are esteemed and acknowledged.
Unlike Haiti, the poor on American streets don’t normally smile and say hello to you. They don’t usually make eye contact when we walk by. Is it because they are used to feeling invisible? I’ve done it many times before. Don’t glance at them so I won’t feel guilty.
In today’s reading, a rich man lives in extravagant luxury while a beggar named Lazarus sits outside of his gate waiting for scraps from the rich man’s table.
Day after day, the rich man comes out of the gate of his house with his entourage of servants and looks past the destitute beggar covered in sores. Lazarus is invisible to the rich man. No smiles or hellos are exchanged. No acknowledgement that Lazarus’ life is valued.
Have you ever felt like Lazarus? Invisible? Like no one even notices your pain?
We all have a cavernous desire to be known. A yearning to know that our lives matter.
Lives that matter fuel our hope.
The astonishing news is when we are in Christ, we are known by God.
Whoever loves God is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:3)
He is our El Roi, the God who sees us. He knew us even before we were conceived. Before He formed us in our mother’s womb, He knew every detail of our lives. With great thoughts of love, He created us and called us to a life of purpose. Being known by God means we are truly rich.
When no one else sees us, God does.
When no one else acknowledges us, God does.
When no one else smiles at us, God does.
At work, I glance at the young Asian girl cleaning the bathrooms and gently smile. Does she feel invisible? Scrubbing toilets while nicely-dressed women rush in and out of the stalls?
“You are doing a great job!” I tell her.
God regularly puts people in our path who may need a reassuring smile. To be acknowledged. To be known.
Will we see them like God does or will they be invisible to us?