Economics seem to be running the country today — along with ISIS — and there is a greater separation between the haves and the have nots. I always go back to my Bible for most every answer and, by George, the Bible has the answer even if it takes some work to discover it. There is a great parable — in fact, most of the familiar ones are found in Luke — and Jesus did not drop this teaching story out to confuse His listeners or us readers who are removed some two thousand years from the source. Let's see what He had to say.
The story is about Dives and Lazarus. By the way, Dives is not the man's name, but is a Latin word for rich. We know the man is rich as his robe is of purple linen and that didn't come cheap. In modern day value, it would have brought about $40K off the rack. Dives ate pretty well, too. He was a gourmet, which meant he ate surf and turf and not a Big Mac and fries. He probably had high blood pressure, gout, pimples and hadn't seen the inside of a gym in years.
Lazarus is the model of someone who was at the lowest level of humanity in the ancient Middle East. Not that he was just poor, but he had no family support. His only means of survival was one day at a time searching for a scrap of food here or a drink of water out of a sewer there. Lazarus finds himself on the steps of the home of Dives. Maybe, if he were lucky, some garbage might be thrown out and he could get some of it before the local dogs did.
For most of history, there were no knives, forks or napkins. You ate with your hands — something that most of us were very content doing — until Miss Manners stuck her nose into dining and wrote a book about etiquette. Anyway, you wiped your hands on hunks of bread and threw the bread on the floor or out the door. This would be a meal for Lazarus, just a hunk of bread with some flavor of salt or grease.
This poor man dies and goes to the bosom of Abraham, a saying that meant he is now in the presence of God. The rich man dies and goes to Hades.
Why? Was Lazarus a fabled Zadeke? Had he given away all his fortune and now lived as an untouchable, unloved, despised and unwanted except by God? Was Dives a miser, cruel, unmoved by poverty, an unbeliever? Perhaps this is the answer: As far as Dives is concerned, Lazarus is nothing more than a part of the landscape, nothing, and it was God's will that he was poor. Dives believes that he is rich because God blessed him. Nothing less and nothing more.
I like William Barclay's answer. He writes, "If some hear the truth of God's word and understand the truth and then look around and see pain and sorrow and are not moved to action, nothing will help them. Nothing!"
The final answer for me comes from Matthew 25:31-46. Please read it. Yes, economics separates us, but the love of God unites us. The sin of Dives was not that he did wrong things. The sin of Dives was that he did nothing. Teach us, God, please, teach us!