Justice and the Foot Soldiers of God…Thought Tangents Spun Out From A Sermon
My Father-in-law gave an excellent sermon this morning.
One of the reasons I try to take notes is not because I want to copy everything from the sermon, but because a really good sermon sparks a much different, but still “Eureka!” type moment in which I suddenly recognize something that was always there in a different light. Today was one of those days, but instead of one new contemplation, I got a two-fer.
The focus of the sermon was one of Jesus’ parables, but one that was unique because he didn’t leave it to us to discern his meaning, because he plainly explained the point of the story himself.
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
18 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”
6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
I took some time to ponder that. It isn’t that much of a stretch to say that some of our Judges today fall into that category. I wrote about how that dual disregard is blinding many of them to the truth in a different essay yesterday, but the parable underscored the fact that it is not a new problem, and that when man’s law is administered by those who respect neither people nor God, the result is that justice becomes both a fluid concept, subject to the preferences and whims of some, and a commodity that is subjectively conferred on those who can offer advantages to the deciders in exchange for this preference. This is what happens when a society denies its origins. This is what happens when truth becomes relative.
The other takeaway for me was born out from the other point Pastor Marty was making…Jesus’ and the Apostles’ focus on prayer. Whether it was Jesus’ point here, or the instruction from Paul to pray without ceasing, prayer is central to the individual’s Christian experience. This I already knew, but what occurred to me, other than my utter failure to follow the instructions in this area, was that those who are much better than I am when it comes to prayer really are the foot soldiers of God.
They pray when they are asked to do so. They pray for those who make the request because their own understanding and abilities have failed, and they have nothing left. They do it without judgement. They’ll do it in the middle of the night, and they will do it in the middle of the day. They will do it with a quiet and simple faith that whatever the answer is, it will be the right answer, regardless of when it comes, or when that understanding dawns on those meant to benefit from it. And they do it with the calm patience that understands that the work is in the sowing and the eventual harvest is for God’s glory…no matter who does that part.
Once again, I am humbled by my own blatant inadequacy.