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With the Rich and Famous


The rich and famous have been the subject of many literary pieces. Authors paint them in different shades and angles but a recurring theme pervades—despite their seeming privileges, they have needs that are unmet.

Edwin Arlington Robinson, an American poet, wrote a poem about a man named Richard Cory who was not only “richer than a king,” but was also highly educated and cultured—being “admirably schooled in every grace.” He was polite to everyone and was “always human when he talked.” He was a darling to behold—“always quietly arrayed,” “glittered when he walked,” and “a gentleman from sole to crown.” In other words, Richard Cory was an epitome of a man who was rich, successful, and famous.  

But the poem does not end there. It continues that while the poor people toiled on and on in their despicable plight, “went on without the meat, and cursed the bread,” wished they were Richard Cory and coveted his station in life, Richard Cory “one calm summer night,/ Went home and put a bullet through his head.”

Thus, Robinson ends his poem, with a bang, leaving us all—both rich and poor—gaping in unexpected disappointment.

Who Are the Rich and Famous?

In many ways, the rich and famous are like us. They have hopes and fears. They feel sad and happy. They need friends—true and loyal friends. And like us, they need God and the gifts of peace and joy and love.

In some ways, however, they are unlike us.  For them, it is more difficult to find true and loyal friends—friends who love them and not their money. For them, it is more difficult to discern which way to take for the glitter of wealth and the fanfare of fame are deceptively dazzling and dizzying. For them, it is more difficult to accept the gospel for they have so much to give up and lose.

What’s Our Attitude Towards the Rich And Famous?

How do we relate with the rich and famous? Are we as easily drawn to them as we are to the poor? Do our hearts beat with the same compassion, with the same eagerness to connect, with the same earnestness to share the love of God? Or are we shy, aloof, prejudiced?

My experience was revelatory of how I regarded the rich. One day, my husband and I were standing across the gate of the venue of the medical board exam. There was a closed car, with dark-tinted windows, parked near the place we were standing. After a few minutes, the door of the car opened. A lady popped her head out and said, “Hi. Do you have a daughter or a son there?”

“A daughter,” I answered.

“My daughter is taking the exam, too.” She further told me her daughter’s name and her school. Then she took out her mobile phone, asked for my number, and rang my phone. “There,” she continued, “do keep in touch and please pray for my daughter.”

“I will,” I promised and stepped away thinking it was the end of our conversation. But the lady extended her hand and said, “Please come inside. You’ll be more comfortable here.”

“Thanks,” I smiled. Despite her insistence, I refused.

Why did I refuse? I asked myself that question over and over after the incident. I played in my mind how the scenario would have been different had I accepted her invitation. I pictured myself sitting beside her, listening to what she wanted to tell me, and praying with her. It was a missed opportunity! Why? Because, I think, my attitude was not right. Deep inside me was an aloofness toward the rich. How often had I read about Philip’s experience with the eunuch! In my case, the eunuch was the lady and the chariot was the dark-tinted car. Like the eunuch, the lady was inviting me to a spiritual experience which sadly I failed to give.

God’s Burden for the Rich

How often have we furthered the cause of the poor and the outcasts! But how often have we forgotten that there is a group—the unreached rich, whom we have neglected just because we perceive them as unneedful of our love and the blessings of the gospel. God loves the rich and famous as He loves us all. When He was on earth, He modelled what our attitude should be toward the rich and famous and how we should deal with them. Among the many examples He has left us are His encounter with Nicodemus with whom He granted special audience—out of His “office,” outside “office” hours; His encounter with Zacchaeus to whose house He invited Himself (Luke 19:5); His encounter with the rich young ruler whom He loved and invited, “Come, follow me” (Mark 10:21, NIV). In addition, the way He revealed Himself to Cornelius, a Roman centurion—how He sent an angel to instruct Cornelius to send for Peter who would tell him and his household the gospel (AA 132-134; Acts 10:1-8) is evidence of His loving concern for the rich and famous.

“God is seeking for souls among the high as well as the low. There are many, like Cornelius, men whom He desires to connect with His church…. But the ties that bind them to the world hold them firmly. It requires moral courage for these men to take their position with the lowly ones. Special effort should be made for these souls …” (MH 209.3). In a dream that God showed to Ellen White, we can infer His love for those in high places and how sadly we have neglected them. Ellen White, in her dream, was picking berries “in a city” where “there were open fields, beautiful groves, and cultivated gardens” (ChS 46.2). While she found ready-to-pick berries all around her, the others who were with her complained that ripe berries were difficult to find. When she showed them what she got, they said, “These are high-bush berries, firm and good. We did not think we could find anything on the high bushes, so we hunted for low-bush berries only, and found but few of these” (ChS 47.5). Toward the end of their berry-picking expedition, Ellen White reproached them, “The high bush have been passed by, simply because you did not expect to find fruit on them” (ChS 48.5).

While we often lament at the plight of the neglected poor, we have failed to sympathize with the neglected rich. And because of our neglect, “thousands of wealthy men have gone to their graves unwarned” (MH 210.1).

How to Reach the Rich and Famous

To reach the rich and famous is no easy work. A special kind of workers is needed–“men and women imbued with the missionary spirit, those who will not fail or be discouraged” (MH 213.3); men and women who will “seek wisdom from God” who “by personal effort and living faith … awaken them to the needs of the soul, to lead them to a knowledge of the truth …” (213.4); men and women who, like Paul, will avoid “elaborate arguments and discussion of theories” but instead will present the gospel in the simplicity of its beauty (214.1); men and women who will present “the principles of temperance” which “many of the higher classes … would recognize their value and give them a hearty acceptance” (211.1). To these workers, God has promised the companionship of the holy angels and the power of the Holy Spirit. When the disciples asked Jesus after the rich young ruler turned sorrowfully away, “Who then can be saved?” (Mark 10:26, NIV), Jesus assured them that “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27, NIV). The rich cannot be reached by the effort of mere men but empowered by the Spirit, even the least of us can do this work. The life of the little maid and her effective witness to Naaman, captain of the Syrian army, and his wife tell us that the rich and famous can be won to Christ (2 Kings 5:1-18), that truly “the greatest men of the earth are not beyond the power of the wonder-working God” (MH 216.1).

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