The Problem with Gates

When I was a kid we lived in a neighborhood that was in a larger neighborhood that was full of gated communities. I guess you say we lived in the least desirable part of the most desirable area. Not sure what that means exactly. We weren’t rich, we barely hung on to middle class. In fact, I would bet that if my parents had it to do all over again they would have saved their tax bill and lived someplace else. But anyways . . .

I remember always driving past the gates. I didn’t envy the people who lived behind them. I don’t even recall ever wishing to live behind those gates with them. But I was always curious. There was always the allure of the unknown. What was it like behind the gate?

I will always remember my trips to Honduras and Jamaica. They were the only two times I have been outside the U.S. to do mission work. Each trip significantly impacted my life and my faith. One thing that really stood out to me on those trips was the economic disparity of the people. There was no middle class to speak of. There was wealthy, not Bill Gates wealthy,  probably like Mr. Howell (shameless Gilligan’s Island reference) wealthy. And then there was broke. Not broke because we have too much student loan and credit card debt. But broke, as in what are we going to eat for supper broke. One thing that always struck me as odd (especially in Honduras) is that you could never really see too much of the rich people’s homes. You might be able to see past the trees and get a glimpse. Or you might be able to see the roof if it stood taller than the trees. But what you never missed was the gate. It’s been almost ten years since I went to Honduras, but I still remember some of the gates. They were that prominent. I guess they stood out so much because right next to the gate you might be able to find a one room shack that housed a family of five.

No matter where you go in the world, you will find gates. They are literally everywhere.

Every time I read the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), I think about all the gates that I’ve seen in my life. I often wonder about the Lazarus in Jesus’ story. I wonder if he was a real person that Jesus had met at some point. I wonder if he envied the man that lived behind the gate. I wonder if he longed to live behind the gate. I wonder if he daydreamed about what was behind the gate. I could be wrong, but it doesn’t seem like he cared. I imagine, if he were real, that he was most interested in just trying to make it through that day – a lot like many of the people in Honduras.

You know, whether or not you live behind an actual gate, there’s a real danger or threat that we will build real nice and fancy gates in our lives. The Rich Man had both. He lived behind the gate for the same reason most people do – to separate themselves from everyone on the outside. But the worst gate in his life was the one that he built around his heart. Because in the end, while he was able to separate himself from the undesirable Lazarus, he ended up separating himself from God.

Be careful not to live your life behind gates. Because whatever gates you choose to live behind now, God will allow you to keep when it’s time to meet Him.

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