“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen…who ….died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes… And he called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” ESV Luke 16:19-24
My morning news browsing revealed Hugh Hefner recently died at his mansion. Throughout the article, people eulogized him as a great man. However, included throughout were insights into a sad and hurting individual. While he appeared happy and pursued pleasure throughout his life, he acknowledged he never found his soul mate. He always wanted a woman as he was a romantic at heart, yet never found what he was seeking for. How should our spiritual formation shape our views of a man who married three times, so blatantly exhibited and encouraged sexual immorality and greatly contributed to the immorality of our culture?
Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus seems to fit Hugh quite well…even down to the purple robe. In this life, Hugh appeared to live quite well, pursuing all forms of sexual indulgence and the materialism accompanying the Playboy brand. Near the end of his life, he suffered from a bad back. Perhaps God was trying to win his heart with a small taste of the pain to come. However, I’ve seen no indication he repented of his sin and embraced the forgiveness of Christ. For that reason, he is most likely currently in great torment. It’s hard to even write these words as I imagine the level of agony that a finger dipped in water and placed on the tongue could bring relief. Though hard to accept, this future awaits all who reject God.
What do we learn from Hugh? We learn God loves all people and isn’t willing that any should perish. We develop a love and compassion for all people, even those who flout God’s laws and undermine Christian culture. We find ourselves thankful for our own salvation, and we redouble our efforts to win others to Christ. My heart is heavy this morning as I think of the agony of those who have perished. May Jesus bless our efforts to win those still on earth to Him.