by Pastor John Stout
It always amazes me how in one parable Jesus can touch on so many different topics, all while presented with a uniquely beautiful balance of grace with truth. For this parable though, what God revealed to me was about the gate in the story. One of the main reasons this stuck out to me is because I could actually visualize the gate that this rich man had and how he would pass by those in need that stayed right out in front of his gate.
On my second deployment to Afghanistan, I again was faced with a culture so drastically different from mine, it was as if I had entered a time machine and went back 2000 years. Although my deployments were hard, I love how I can visualize and connect with what the Bible describes. Anyway, the reason this hit home was because it was always so easy to tell who the rich man was in the region that was assigned to our unit because of three traits that could be observed. The first, but not always a key sign, was that they worn bright colored outfits that were decorated with anything that was shiny and reflective. This is a huge contrast to the other locals. Their outfits, or only outfit, was either brown, grey, or black. The second sign was that they were around 30-40 pounds heavier their all the other males in their size and height. This is due to the ability to have plenty of food at their disposal, versus the others in the area that were quite slim, if not half starving. The third, and most definite sign that they were rich and held some sort of power in their region, was that they had a gate.
This gate always had a narrow passageway that led up to it with large walls on either side. This gate right outside where I was based was just like this, as seen in the picture above that I took. We would often meet with this leader in order to help maintain security in the local area and prevent freedom of movement for the enemy. But what I did not at the time take notice of, was that the people that would line that narrow passage before the gate, were the weak, poor, and children from that area. Just like in the story the rich man would always pass them by and never give them anything and ignore them as he would leave.
What the Lord was showing me, was that although I may not have a physical gate in which there are starving or sick people lining up, there are people in my path everyday that need help. This may be someone you see everyday at work that is in need. Perhaps there is someone you know crying out in a spiritual way.
God places people in our paths and at our gates that need to be shown the love of God though us. So often I will be busy in my own world and the things that I need to do that I think are beyond my gate and out in the town, when many times I just need to slow down and ask God to reveal the people and the needs that are right in front of me. So my challenge to you is to ask God who is at your gate, and then to seek his will in how you can minister to those he has placed at your gate. Don’t be the rich man that walks by.