Have you ever heard of Rudolph Valentino? Unless you are a movie buff, his name means nothing to you. Valentino was very famous movie star in the 1920s. In 1926 he died in New York City of complications of appendicitis. The viewing of his body caused a riot as people fought to get in the funeral home. Police had to form cordons to control the crowds. His funeral procession was viewed by 100,000 people.
That was eighty-seven years ago, less than a century. The life and works of Rudolph Valentino are little remembered.
This brings to mind a story that you may have heard. It is the story of the Christian missionary family returning from years of service among the pagan people of a foreign land. They were returning by ship, and there was a brass band and a large crowd gathered to welcome someone. The missionary’s son exclaimed, “They are here to welcome you home, Dad.”
But the crowd was gathered for a celebrity who was also on board the ship. The son was disappointed that there was no one to welcome them home. But the wise missionary father replied, “We are not home yet, son.”
I do not know if this story is true, but it is a wonderful parable of the Christian life. We do not always receive rewards or fame in this life, but we are not home yet.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), as told by the Lord Jesus, contains a lot of information. Beyond the picture of peaceful rest for Lazarus and flaming torment for the rich man, we see that the unnamed rich man was totally cognizant of his sad situation. He recognized Abraham even though he had never met him. (Abraham lived 2,000 years before the time when Jesus told this parable.) Also, we learn that being rich does not equate to eternal punishment. Abraham was very wealthy, but he used his wealth in a righteous manner. There is the lesson for our times.
There are many today who have been blessed with fame, fortune, great talent or great beauty. Some are very gracious with what they have been given. Others are arrogant and haughty. There is nothing wrong with having great blessings. The question is, “How do you use them?” Of course, these blessings are very temporary. But we Christians have a wonderful and blessed and eternal (read permanent) future.
We know this, and yet sometimes it helps to be reminded. When we see someone who has been greatly blessed and is arrogant with what they have been given, or when we see what appears to us to be unjust or unfair, remember, we are not home yet.