February 15, 2017

Inside Our Mansions

Luke 16:19-31

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.

—  Luke 16:19

When I came back from a mission trip to India, I was sure I would never forget what I had seen. The unimaginable poverty, the plight of “untouchables,” the sight of two women clawing through garbage just outside our hotel, the tug of a young girl refusing to let go until I gave her something—these images filled my mind.

But I did forget. Before long my appetite returned, and the mental images of what I had seen slowly disappeared. Surrounded by every luxury imaginable, I again began to develop calluses that kept me from feeling compassion for people in need.

Most of us do not have the luxuries described in today’s parable. Few of us dress in purple or fine linen. Compared to the mansion of the rich man, most of our homes are modest. Some of us may even have trouble making ends meet. And yet, compared to millions, many of us do live in luxury. Two billion people live on less than two dollars a day. More than a billion don’t have clean water to drink, while hundreds of millions are chronically hungry. And every four seconds a child under age 5 dies because of extreme poverty. That’s the reality of the world we live in.

It’s up to us who live in luxury to have compassion for people who need help. It’s up to us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide water—however we can.

Lord, keep us from developing calluses that dull our hearts from feeling the pain of others. Fill us with your love. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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