So today I am reading in Luke 16 where Jesus tells about Lazarus and the rich guy, and I stopped for a bit when I got to the part where the rich guy, who is burning up in Hades, makes his little appeal to “send someone back from the dead” to warn people about this nasty place. The conversation went like this:
“Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!'”
So the rich guy was implying that even though he ignored Moses (the Law) and the Prophets, he would have changed his mind… if only God had raised someone from the dead. In other words, “It’s not all my fault! If God would have done more tricks to impress me, I would have put him on my calendar!”
It reminds of all the great ideas we come up with to bring people to God…when most of them, if we are honest, really don’t accomplish that. What many of our ideas DO accomplish:
- Get people to attend a church service;
- Get people to feel guilty enough to “serve” in the church;
- Get people to say the right thing instead of the true thing;
- Get people to think spirituality is about the quality of a show;
- Get people to focus on a certain leader or religious organization.
I notice that Jesus was highly resistant to “marketing” ideas. He seemed at times to even discourage people from following Him. Like when he told one guy He as was homeless, or another guy to sell all he owns first (so he would have less to put in the offering plate???), or telling another guy to let the “dead” bury his father.
The point is that if we had just heard the suggestion, “…if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!”, without knowing where it came from, many of us would agree with this strategy…we might even write a tract about it! But to Jesus, this was just another good idea from hell.
So let’s listen a little longer, and try to discern where our ministry ideas are coming from.
Grace and Peace