Thursday, November 8, 2018

value and faith in God's economy Mark 12:28-44

The week before he died Jesus taught prophetically in the temple. He named names. He called people out. He told the truth about what he saw and heard. He called out the scribes, self professed experts in religion. These scribes, so called experts, told other people what they were doing, right or wrong, in terms of the religious law. But Jesus had a bone to pick with them. They might have had the right sounding words and maybe even the right outward actions—but something didn't add up. So he called out warning about them..

... “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Mark 12:38-40 (NRSV)
The scribes' actions and judgmental attitudes didn't match-up with the heart of God. They used religion as a pretext to disparage others and enrich themselves. They were frauds. And Jesus called them out.

Faith is lived out both in public and in private—it's a matter of trust in God rather than rule following and hoop jumping. Faith is lived out in spaces that only God sees—faith is found in our heads and in our hearts—in spaces that the whole world can see. This is the uncomfortable truth—there are a whole lot of people who want to be thought of as deep and spiritual. Jesus called the scribes out because their faith wasn't real at all.

And he did it all in the temple—in the middle of the most public place—where Jews like him went to worship. He had enemies now—but he was standing up for the truth—for the poor and the financially misused.
41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them,
“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 (NRSV)
This woman was the real deal. She had deep faith—the mustard sized confidence that God can move mountains. She had faith and even though she gave a little her great confidence meant she gave more than all the rich people putting in great sums of money.

This passage is like a minefield for preachers. Here's the woman giving in faith—and here in the same temple are the people who would financially abuse widows like her. And here's the rub—to live like her—to trust like her is all about the heart and head spaces that only God sees breaking into the public space that everybody sees. It's about giving trusting that God can use anything to make a difference. And for preachers here's the danger—we are called to give and to urge others to give generously. But we are called not to exhort others to give out of our own greed.

In God's economy a little bit, a few pennies, is worth more than a vast fortune.
In God's economy faith like the widows is the key.
peace, and thanks for reading,