The Word on the Week

Rich Man, Poor Man

It looks like the convicts are running the prison was the graphic description one commentator gave to the unbridled greed of the top Bankers who now face the liquidation of their banks. The removal of controls some years ago permitted ever higher risk lending resulting in the banks taking on the mantle normally worn by their entrepreneurial customers. The time honoured practice of international banking also found itself drawn into the high risk environment. The trusted names with the highest credit rating have been the hit by what is now described as a financial tsunami. This particular wave may well travel around the world. In sharp contrast to the financial disruption four emails arrived this week illustrating the way of life in Maasailand, Africa. The missionary who sent them was keen to illustrate how a relatively small sum of money had made a major impact in that society. Their struggle for survival was not helped by the disruption in Kenya following the disputed general election results. Against the odds Christian preachers had set up medical clinics and organised schools. Their worship was under trees in the daytime and at night with the shepherds under the moon. What has Wall Street to do with the Maasai? Not a lot! God’s view of this distorted world was summed up by Jesus in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Just as Jesus illustrated the rich man’s love of money and self over against his neighbour, Lazarus, so today Wall Street behave in a similar way to their Maasai neighbours in our global village. Interestingly the rich man prayed in hell for his brothers only to be told, “they have the scriptures, let them listen to them”. St Luke chapter 17 verse 29. St Paul added that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”. The Maasai shepherds heard and responded to one who is not only their Shepherd but the door to heaven. Jesus said, “I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved”. The Maasai will not be in heaven because they were poor but because they trusted Jesus. The invitation is open to all. By God’s grace there is no excluded class. Bankers and Maasai meet at the foot of the cross. Will you be there?