Saturday, November 5, 2016
Heaven is a Long Way From Hell
Luke 16:19-31(NLT) - The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’ “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’ “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
There is a lot we can learn from that story. Often we tend to focus on the fact that one man was rich and the other man poor, and then try to figure out what that means for us and the material wealth we have or desire to accumulate. I personally don't think that's the main point of the story. I think Jesus shared that with His followers then and with us now to point out how far Heaven is from hell.
I hope you do accept that both are real places, and every person ever born will eventually see one of the two...but not both. And not only are they two distinct places, but they are separated with a great divide in between. They're not like New York and New Jersey with nothing but a bridge separating the two. No they are as far apart as the East is from the West. Abraham told the rich man that there is a great chasm or divide between the two and no one can cross over from one to the other. And that fact probably has more meaning for most people when we die, but I want you to know that it has meaning for us now while we still live.
My point...ok I'm getting to it, don't rush me...my point is this. Too many people want to be on their way to Heaven but live everyday like hell. (Was that inappropriate? I hope not). So many people want to have a sense of security in calling themselves a Christian and saying they believe in God yet live the majority of their lives pointed away from Him. Please hear me, we need to know that Heaven and hell are eternities apart and we can't be going in the direction of both of them at the same time. Now if you get to an intersection and you find a way to turn left and right at the same time, then I'll come back and admit I'm wrong. Until then, let all of us who plan to be in Heaven one day strive every day to live like we're already there.