October 21, 2001

Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, "There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: 'My rights are being violated. Protect me!'

"He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, 'I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won't quit badgering me, I'd better do something and see that she gets justice -- otherwise I'm going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.'"

Then the Master said, "Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won't step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won't he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?"

<The Message >


1. The Christian Community Bible comments: "'A judge who does not regard people' -- many people seeing what is unjust and absurd in life, see God this way."

This view is not far from disappointed literalists or fundamentalist when God does not smite their favorite hate targets. This view is not far from bitter atheists.

And, like it or not, this view is not far from "Christians" -- particularly those who have not kept up their spiritual disciplines, community life, and life-long learning. All three of these contain antidotes to the despair of having bad things come to supposedly good people. May we preach truth to despair.

2. It's always fun to see the high-and-mighty get theirs. A judge who doesn't know about restraining orders is a hoot. A judge who exaggerates persistence into a physical beating is next to a laughing stock. This is farce at its best. Can't you see the widow popping out of a garbage can when the judge goes to toss away a banana peel. Then catch her honking while the judge sits at a light and her tailgating him for miles after that. There she is spitting in his soup when he is out for a meal. Aren't anachronisms great! Great story, Jesus.

3. Even through the weirdness of the story comes the question about persistent faith. As you think about the roller-coaster you have been on since September 11, how persistent is your faith? How does it compare with the persistence of your anger? or sadness? What actions are you participating in which will build up the supply of faith that it might better see us through good times and bad?

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