“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.” ~Luke 16:19-21
He’s right there on the rich man’s front porch. But he’s invisible to the rich man. The rich man doesn’t see him. The rich man has to step over him when he leaves his house in the morning and he has to step around him when he returns in the evening. But he doesn’t talk to Lazarus. He doesn’t invite Lazarus in. He doesn’t even offer the crumbs he’s begging for. He’s invisible.
And I wonder about the invisible people in our churches. I think our churches are probably full of invisible people.
There are people in our churches with six-figure incomes and five-bedroom houses and three-dozen close friends who feel invisible. We don’t see their hurt. Maybe I legitimately don’t see it because I’m clueless. Maybe I suspect there’s some pain, but I don’t want to go there with that person. Maybe the hurting person is just really good at hiding it. But inside, she’s dying. Inside, he’s miserable.
There are people in our churches who just don’t fit in. They’re ignored by the world and neglected on Sundays. Here at Central, we make a lot of promises to people when they join our church. But our track record is not perfect in keeping those promises. We’re trying; I don’t doubt anyone’s hearts or intentions. But we’re not perfect. Not everybody is able to easily slide into our classes and groups and cliques.
There are people in our churches who feel invisible to God. Maybe they’re in the middle of something that just started or it’s a situation they’ve been living with their whole life. But they feel like God doesn’t understand. God’s not listening. He’s not helping me right now. He’s ignoring me.
We need to be better, yes. We need to try harder. And we’ll talk more about that this week. In the meantime, especially if you’re one of the invisible people, please notice this: Lazarus is the only one in Jesus’ story who has a name. The Hebrew word “Lazarus” literally means “God helps” or “helped by God.” Nobody else may be helping this poor man, but God certainly is. God sees this person. And God is protecting and providing for this person.
So, we need to see this man and all the men and women all around us who are hurting in obvious ways and in ways unseen. These people are not invisible to God. Our heavenly Father sees everybody. May we have eyes and hearts to see them, too.