Updated: Oct 29, 2019
This is a retelling of Jesus' parable from Luke 16:19-31.
On the way to dinner, the couple passed a beggar. The beggar's tattered clothes didn't keep away the bite of the cold air, and their raggedness robbed him of his dignity. His old hands held a cardboard sign that read, "Hungry, anything helps."
The man drew the woman closer to him as they scurried by. They had seen the beggar before. His presence had been the catalyst for conversations about giving to the poor and the laziness of the homeless. The two debated God's call to follow Jesus and how to do it in a way that taught their children to care about philanthropy. Every year, they made sure they gave to multiple charities and tithed to their church. The couple made appearances at charity events and loved to have their names paired with their giving efforts.
But the couple barely looked at the homeless they passed on the streets. The two created a separation between their lives and those that had less than them. They even pulled their children out of public school, arguing, "we are doing what is best for our children."
The two discussed the homeless man as they sat down for dinner. The woman said, "If we gave the beggar money, he would probably just spend it on alcohol." The waiter interrupted the woman's thought. The man ordered an Old Fashion and the woman a pinot noir.
They continued to complain about the cities panhandlers, complaining, "It is disruptive to the good people of the city, who are just trying to live their life."
They finished their meal, and the man signed for the check, skimping on the tip. He smiled, "I'm so glad we take time for ourselves, honey, we deserve it." He looked proudly at his picture-perfect wife, whose highlights and expertly applied makeup hid her age. Her perfect clothes cost a fortune, but the company he inherited from his father and the job her sorority sister helped her get, let them easily afford these luxuries.
She laughed and said, "Yes, we do! We work so hard; we don't just wait for the government to hand us stuff."
The waiter handed them their leftovers – enough feed a family – and they headed for the door. She turned to her husband and said, "Let's try that new cupcake place." After finishing the cupcakes, they headed for the car, not realizing that they had left the Styrofoam container of food behind. The man pulled out his phone and texted his trainer. An extra session might cost a fortune but would make up for eating the dessert he didn't need.
The couple walked back to the car, they passed the beggar, but their buzz induced by their indulgence blinded them from his slumped body and the dogs that were licking his face.
No one noticed the beggar's death, but everyone saw the couple's Mercedes swerve into a truck, killing the couple instantly. Their church hosted the funeral, which was attended by every one of importance in the town. As the funeral attendees enjoyed a catered meal, gravediggers dumped the beggar in an unmarked grave.
The couple's children mourned, while the couple woke up in hell. Tormented by fire, they saw Abraham in Heaven. Next to Abraham, sat the beggar, clothed in beautiful robes - his dignity restored.
The man called up to Abraham, "Father Abraham, have pity on us and send the beggar to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool our tongues because we are in agony in this fire."
But Abraham replied, "Son, you remember that in your lifetime you received good things, while the beggar received bad things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been set in place so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us." The man and woman wept, realizing their folly.
The woman begged, "Then I ask you, father, send the beggar to our church and family, for our church and family do not know you want us to care for others. Let him warn them that they will not come to this place of torment."
Abraham replied, "They have Moses, Prophets, the Epistles and the teachings of our Lord Jesus; let them listen and repent."
"No, father. Our church is too concerned with what people think about Homosexuality, who thinks correctly, and which politician will give us more power. We are so focused on looking like right Christians, we don't look at the Bible, and when we do, it's only to use verses that affirm what we already believe. But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent."
Abraham replied, "Really? Because you ignored the Lord Jesus, when after rising from the dead, he commanded, feed my sheep."