Some of you might have seen the recent reality show on Discovery Channel called “Undercover Billionaire.”
There’s a notion in our society today that the younger generations no longer have the opportunities to realize their American Dreams like before.
Some say the American Dream is dead.
Billionaire Glenn Stearns wants to find out whether it is still possible to reproduce his rags-to-riches story.
He made a challenge to himself to build a million-dollar business in 90 days from nothing.
Glenn was born to alcoholic parents, diagnosed dyslexic, failed fourth grade, fathered a child at the age of 14 and graduated high school at the bottom of his class.
After high school, he decided to change his life and, to make the long story short, he built a multibillion business, set up several foundations, and received many prestigious awards for his entrepreneurship and humanitarian services.
At 55, he wants to find out if he could do it all over again.
Recently, Forbes Magazine reported that he might no longer be a billionaire, but he might only be worth half a billion.
However, that’s beyond the point.
The point is whether America is still the land of opportunity.
In this reality show, Stearns was flown to a city he has never been to.
Without any connection, with only $100 in his pocket, a cellphone, and an old truck, he was challenged to create a business that is worth a million dollars by the end of 90 days pretending that he just quit a corporate job to start a business.
He promised to the Discovery Channel that if he couldn’t build a business worth one million dollars in 90 days, he would give a million-dollar of his own money.
This 90-day real-life journey was put together into a series of 8 one-hour episodes, and last Tuesday was the finale, where he revealed his true identity to the team.
In the end, he has proven that the American Dream is still alive provided that you don’t make excuses.
His life could have been full of excuses.
He could use the fact that he was born to alcoholic parents as an excuse not to succeed.
Being dyslexic could be an excuse also.
Many people use the lack of opportunity in today’s world as an excuse.
He has proven that none of these excuses are valid.
After seeing the show, I asked myself, what excuses do we have against the revival of our church?
Overcoming excuses is an important principle of life.
The danger is some of the excuses we have are unconscious.
We don’t even know that we are making excuses and end up perpetuating the failure.
How about the spiritual aspect of life?
Can we make excuses about not believing?
If we do believe, can we make excuses for not bearing the fruit of the spirit?
Woody Allen once gave his excuse for not believing.
He said, “If only God would give me some clear sign!
Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.”
He said it with tongue in cheek, and we don’t know if he was serious or not.
Jesus said that it is an evil and unbelieving generation that seeks signs.
For such people, even if God did deposit a large sum of money in their name in a Swiss bank, they would still not believe.
They might find another excuse or call it a freak coincident.
We know that Bertrand Russel, one of the smartest minds of the 20th century, was serious when he gave the speech, “Why I Am Not A Christian.”
He said if he died and saw God in heaven and should God ask him, “Why didn’t you believe me.”
His answer would be, “You did not give me enough evidence to believe you.”
However, Jesus said there’s more than enough evidence about God in the world.
Those who find excuses not to believe will always find it and he said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
He is saying that even the miracle of resurrection cannot change a hardened heart.
This leads to today’s scripture lesson, where Jesus told the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
I am sure you are all familiar with it.
Unlike Lazarus, the rich man doesn’t even have a name, which means he didn’t do anything significant with his wealth for his name to be worthy of mentioning by Jesus.
He was self-absorbed in his wealth with luxurious clothes and sumptuous feasts.
He was consumed by the consumables.
Jesus made a stark contrast between these two people:
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.”
Since dogs are not well regarded in that culture, saying that the dogs would come and lick his sores adds to the degradation of Lazarus’ life.
Both of them died, and their condition was reversed.
Lazarus was at the presence of Abraham, and the rich man was tormented by fire.
Then the conversation started between the rich man and Abraham.
Jesus used this dialog to deliver spiritual wisdom.
“He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus (he knows Lazarus) to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’”