“If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” Luke 16:31 (CEB)
I wonder. If someone rose from the dead – like a relative or friend – I think I would sit up and take notice! The story of Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol comes to mind when I read this passage. That story always gives me hope that people can change, wake up, realize that they are on the wrong path, but of course, it is fiction . . . sigh.
However, that doesn’t mean to give up hope! Those of us who follow Jesus know that someone DID rise from the dead – he did! Without that belief, our faith is hopeless. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, there appears to be no hope for Lazarus. The rich man ignores him, and it would seem that everyone else did, too. Yet, after death, he is held “in the bosom of Abraham” (as the African American Spiritual goes) and is comforted.
On the other hand, the rich man is thrown into the burning fires of Hades where he suffers and longs for a cooling, soothing touch. For many of us who read this story, we figure he got his “just rewards.” He tried in vain to have Abraham send Lazarus to his siblings to warn them, but Abraham told him it wouldn’t work. They won’t be convinced. They have to figure it out from those who are teaching and preaching to them.
I wonder sometimes if what I preach really makes a difference in people’s lives. I don’t often see changes of behavior. I still hear gossip, see people trying to get things their way, hear criticisms of others, witness hurt feelings without forgiveness, and the list could go on and on. But then, I need to remember that a change of behavior isn’t up to me because I am only the messenger. The behavior change is between the individual and God.
We all need to pay attention to the messages that we receive through the scriptures, through prayer, through worshiping together, in Bible studies, and in the living of the saints who teach us about faithful and watchful living. It is in hearing the message and beginning to apply it to our lives that we will grow into the likeness of Christ. It’s a lifelong process, but paying attention is the beginning.
What messages from God do you hear?
How do you apply them?
In what ways do you then share that message with others?