When considering the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8), we infer quickly that God is not like the unrighteous judge. Jesus intends for us to come to this conclusion: And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Luke 18:7). In other words, if even this unrighteous judge who neither fears God nor respects man gives people justice, how much more will God – who is holy and righteous and perfectly just – grant justice to his chosen people?
God is not like the unrighteous judge.
But often when this parable is explained, it seems that Christians are left with the impression that we should be like the persistent widow.
I often joke that Kristen and I only see about one movie per year (in a theater), whether we need to or not. That sentiment says more about our stage of life than it does our interest in movies. We love movies, but the cost and time commitment a trip to the theater requires make those trips a rarity.
We will, however, make a trip to see the movie Unplanned. I hope you will, too.
Adoniram Judson was the first overseas missionary from the United States. In 1812, when he was 23-years-old, he sailed to Burma to take the gospel to people who had never heard it. With him sailed his wife, Ann – to whom he had been married for twelve days on the day they departed. Ann would never return home. They both gave their lives – their talents – to see Christ treasured in Burma, serving there until they died.
Christian history is littered with people who thought they knew exactly when and exactly how Christ would return. All of them have been wrong. Furthermore, those who continue to prognosticate about these things will always be wrong. After all, Jesus himself said: Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only (Matt 24:36). Idle speculation about the time of Christ’s return is foolish, and we should avoid it.
But my concern here is not only for those who are drawn toward idle speculation about the timing of Christ’s return. My concern is for all of us, and for the deeper, universal impulse such idle speculation reflects.
Nearly unprecedented flooding has covered much of our state in recent days, displacing many Nebraskans from their homes and bringing suffering and pain to many more. This is a prayer for those impacted by the flood, and for us all as we respond to it.
Greed is subtle. It knows how to hide in our hearts, lurking in the shadows where it can destroy us, undetected. We should realize this, yet we don’t. Consider: Virtually everyone agrees that greed and materialism are real problems in the world. On top of that, Christians recognize that Jesus talked openly and often about greed, saying things like this to warn us against it: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness” (Luke 12:15a). Yet virtually no one considers himself to be a greedy person. That doesn’t add up!
We should assume that greed is, or easily can be, a problem for us. And we should fight greed in our own lives. But how?
Last Thursday, for what felt like the umpteenth time this winter, the city of Lincoln experienced a winter “snow event.” My wife and I awoke on Thursday morning to the sounds of our local school district canceling all classes for the day. Outside, a fresh blanket of white powder covered the already-existing layers of snow and ice. Soon, the sounds of snow blowers and shovels rang through the air in my neighborhood, while my wife scrambled to adjust her agenda knowing that she now had four children to supervise all day.
I was frustrated.