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Loving Our Father But Not Our Brother

The rich man refers to Abraham as Father which reveals he is a religious Jew. He probably went to synagogue every week. He may have prayed, fasted, and even given significantly to the building fund. But his relationship with God did not carry over into his relationship with the man who suffered at his gate. He knew Abraham as his father, but he did not recognize Lazarus as his brother. This failure to recognize the brotherhood of humanity created a chasm between him and Lazarus in this life that carried over into the next life.

In this context, hell is not meant to create dividing lines between Christians and non-Christians, but to draw our attention to the chasms we create between ourselves and others, especially the invisible and ignored. Hell is not meant as a religious weapon we use to threaten others that have different religious beliefs as we do, but as a warning for us not to ignore the poor and suffering in our own backyard.

- Shawn Casselberry, "Is Hell for the Rich?" Red Letter Christians e-newsletter for 4/9/13.