Deadly Distractions

August 18, 2020 | Megan Schemenauer

The sleek red body gleamed in the morning sun as she slipped into her parking space each morning, drawing eyes, oohs, and aahs from all across the playground. 

I was only in elementary school, but in a parking lot full of basic and sensible Hondas and Chevys, it was clear that Mrs. Mossbrook’s candy-apple Mustang convertible was by far superior to every other teacher’s car. I was impressed, impacted, to the point that even dozens of years later, I still consider a red convertible the ideal “cool car.”

That’s the way with worldly possessions, isn’t it? They impress us, impact us, even possess us at times in our pursuit to acquire them. And it’s not just cars. The latest fashions call. The hottest new technologies beckon. Lake houses and speed boats glisten on the horizon. The whole world full of luxuries for a price on a tag. 

And with every new, shiny object dropped onto the market each year, one year fluidly slips into another as we continue our restless pursuit after possessions. How long does this treasure hunt continue? Forty years? Fifty? Sixty? 

Whatever your current age and whatever you’ve currently accumulated, let’s just take a momentary mental pause. Imagine the end. You’ve lived a full life. You’ve accomplished many of your goals. You’ve gained a number of those shiny possessions. And now your life is coming to a close.

Now what? “You can’t take it with you,” the saying goes.

The rich man in Luke 16:19 had certainly enjoyed his share of luxuries: fine clothes, delicious food. But ultimately, both he and a nearby beggar Lazarus end up in the same situation. Dead. The same destination every one of us is heading, no matter how much we try to avoid thinking about it. And while there is nothing wrong with enjoying life and the things God blesses us with, from this story, we can see a danger in worldly distractions.

Why did Lazarus end up in Heaven with Abraham while the rich man ended up in torment? While we aren’t given the intimate details of each man’s life, we can certainly infer that while Lazarus did not have many (or any!) earthly possessions, he must have at least found the one thing that really matters, the difference between Heaven and Hell. Because when he finally dies in verse 22, the angels carried him to Abraham's side.

But what about the rich man? In the midst of “living it up,” it seems he had missed out on the one thing he truly needed. Because upon his death, he is buried and wakes up in Hades in torment (v. 23). What could this man who “had it all” possibly have been missing?

The answer is not a possession but a Person. As the apostle Peter testified before the Sanhedrin later on in the book of Acts, “It is by the name of Jesus . . . Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4: 10, 12). 

Jesus died on the cross to offer to every one of us the free gift of salvation. And it is a gift, to be accepted or rejected. But it is the only “possession” in this life that truly matters. Without receiving the gift of salvation, all the riches in the world will not save us.

By worldly standards, the rich man had lived a satisfying and successful life. But not by God’s standard. His name is not even recorded in Scripture for posterity. And the possessions he spent his life obtaining and enjoying are now nothing but dust. It’s Lazarus, a poor beggar, whom we are left to admire and emulate in this story, not because of his life of pain and poverty but because he sought salvation rather than worldly possessions.

What distractions have been keeping your life too full for God lately? What is your deadly distraction?