Christopher B. Harbin
Jeremiah 31:27-34; Luke 18:1-8: 2nd Timothy 3:14-4:5
It seems we are bombarded with messages 24/7/365. I get phone calls about the expired warranty on my car. My sons know all the major automobile insurance companies by slogan and advertising style. I know all about medicines and equipment to treat conditions I do not have. I hear about the latest sales for items I do not need to purchase. I hear about where I can find the largest selection of cars, office supplies, clothing, furniture, and sportswear. The business world has learned how to get their messages to potential customers. Among all the messages out there, where is our message proclaiming God's reign in our lives? Do we give up on sharing the gospel before we begin?
Jesus' parable of the persistent widow has often bothered me. It seems dissonant with the rest of Biblical teaching on prayer. Here we are told of a widow incessantly pleading her case to a judge who cares nothing for justice. We find that her persistence pays off--she finally gets her way. It would seem that Jesus is saying that if we treat God like an unjust judge, eventually God will cave in and give us what we want. The picture just does not fit my larger understanding of God, Jesus, and our proper place as beloved servants of the Almighty.
Deep down, I don't particularly want a God who will cave in to my demands. I need a God who knows better than I. I need a Lord who earnestly desires better than my fleeting or stubborn desires. On the other hand, it is tempting to discover some means to control God. It is tempting to use God like a jinn enslaved by a magic lamp. I want to be in control, yet I am afraid that my sense of right and good is not always on target. I crave the security of being in control, yet am all too aware that I am not fit for the control I crave. How can Jesus be teaching that by persistence we can force God's hand? Such a concept is too out of char ...
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