How is everyone doing?
What a crazy time this is…
I really do hope that you guys are doing well and washing your hands.
If you’re feeling isolated, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re created to be connected — no matter how much of an introvert we claim to be — so if you’re feeling isolated (and I know it’s not the same as person-to-person connection), please reach out.
Also, check in with everyone that you know. See how they’re doing. Let’s continue to find creative ways to embody the presence of Christ.
… with that said, I wanted to talk a little bit of sh*t (what a segue, I know…)
In times like these, you see both the best of humanity and the worst of humanity.
You see things like this:
A man coming to visit his father even though his father’s residence is on lockdown.
You see people find creative ways to help others out.
As Mr. Rogers said:
On the darker — lose-your-faith-in-humanity — side of things, you have people like this Canadian couple making a profit by price gouging hand sanitizers and stuff.
And people like Mr. Matt Colvin:
Although, reports now have said that he has donated everything he had.
But the jerk in me says that he did that because he no longer could sell them and because of the negative press he received for being a “family man, family business.” But who am I to judge a person’s motive.
It’s one thing for people to take advantage of other people’s fears for profit. It’s a whole different level when churches do it.
Like Kenneth Copeland healing people from the Coronavirus through the TV screen:
Or am I the ‘ye of little faith’ by thinking this dude is and always has been a con man? But some good faithful person who might be infected with the coronavirus might think s/he is healed and start moseying about in the world coming in contact with other vulnerable people…
And then there’s good ole Jim Bakker, selling what he dubbed “Silver Solution” claiming that it can cure Coronavirus for $80 for 4 4oz bottles. He’s being sued by Missouri for selling the fake cure.
C’mon, man! Helping or hurting?? Helping or hurting?
In one of my YouTube rabbit holes, I discovered a YouTuber by the name of Leon Lush and he did a video about (NSFW language, btw… or uh… Not Safe for Home language if you’re quarantining with kids) about Peter Popoff, another televangelist. (He also has two videos about Ken Copeland that I’ll get around to eventually).
Exploiting and preying on the poor and vulnerable. That’s what people like Bakker are doing. And using the church as the vehicle to do so.
Which reminded me of the story of the Widow’s Mite:
21 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”Luke 21:1-4 CEB
Raise your hands: How many of you have heard this during a stewardship campaign (when churches are asking for money)?
*slowly raises hand*.
How many of you have used this story as an illustration for stewardship?
*looks around… slowly raises hand*
It’s a beautiful story because Jesus commended her for her sacrifice. And her sacrifice can serve as a model to how we should live.
But have we ever sat back for a moment and wondered why Jesus commended her?
How could her life be possibly better after giving away whatever she had left? Is it because JC’s more concerned with the percentage we give than the amount?
Or again, am I the “ye of little faith” type of dude, not trusting in “God will provide” (which don’t get me wrong, I do trust in. I also like to balance reason with my faith as well. You know… like if I’m going to pray for a new job, I’m not going to sit around and just pray but I’m gonna go and send in my resume to as many places whilst praying for a new job… faith and reason… prayer and action… )
*in Morpheus’s voice*
But what if I told you Jesus wasn’t commending her?
One reason why I don’t think Jesus was commending her comes from Mark:
9 Jesus continued, “Clearly, you are experts at rejecting God’s commandment in order to establish these rules. 10 Moses said, Honor your father and your mother,[a]and The person who speaks against father or mother will certainly be put to death.[b] 11 But you say, ‘If you tell your father or mother, “Everything I’m expected to contribute to you is corban(that is, a gift I’m giving to God),” 12 then you are no longer required to care for your father or mother.’ 13 In this way you do away with God’s word in favor of the rules handed down to you, which you pass on to others. And you do a lot of other things just like that.”Mark 7:0-13
Basically, if you take money that was dedicated to supporting your family and give it to the religious leaders: it’s wrong. And faith leaders who try to convince folks to do so are also wrong (…annnnnd kind of being predatory…).
Again, why would Jesus commend one of the most marginal and vulnerable people of his society for giving up everything to an institution he was constantly butting heads with and one that he knew would eventually kill him?
Also, in the previous chapter, Jesus basically lays downeth a verbal smackdown on the religious leaders. He finishes with this statement:
They are the ones who cheat widows out of their homes, and to show off they say long prayers. They will be judged most harshly. (Luke 20:47).
Then in the next sentence (which happens to be the start of the next chapter) Luke writes: Looking up Jesus saw rich people throwing their gifts into the collection box for the temple treasury (Luke 21:1, emphasis added).
So, he goes on accusing the Church of cheating widows out of their homes then in the next breath commends the widow for giving the church everything she had to live on?
Like did I miss something? Because there’s no continuity there.
The religious institution took everything from her.
So, again, what if Jesus wasn’t commending her? I mean usually, Jesus gives folks a pep talk after commending them.
Like… even in Israel I haven’t found faith like this.
Or… Rise and go, your faith has made you well
or… Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.
Or… Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.
But nothing here. He doesn’t even interacts with her. Just points out what she’s doing.
And what if in his pointing out her actions, he wasn’t commending her but lamenting?
Lamenting at what the church had become.
In 2 previous chapters (Luke 19), Jesus clears out the temple because, again, it was the poor who were being exploited and preyed upon by the religious institution.
The already rich were benefitting from a system that was taking advantage of the poor and vulnerable. What made it absolutely worse was that this system was operating under the name of YHWH.
Rather than commending the widow, (I believe) Jesus was lamenting her situation.
Perhaps we’ve misused this story by commending the widow’s action ourselves; highlighting her sacrifice but yet turning a blind eye to the institution that was preying upon the likes of her.
Perhaps, the better way to tell this story (next time) is to remind ourselves of the revolution that Jesus started:
a revolution where sacrificial love was/is the foundation — the driving engine;
a revolution where the marginalized aren’t pushed further into the margins, but included — even highlighted — in Gods kingdom;
a revolution where the first is last and the last is first — where He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed.
Perhaps we should use this story to challenge ourselves not to turn a blind eye when the Church abuses its power and causes more harm whilst calling it ‘good’; while pushing people further into the margins in the name of Jesus.
Perhaps Jesus is calling attention on the widow to remind us to stand with the least of these as his followers rather than pushing them further into oppression.
Just maybe Jesus shines the spotlight on this woman — not to commend her — but to call us fight for people like her; to love mercy, to act justly, and to walk humbly with God.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
You can comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you think I’m completely off my rockers or have some parts resonated with you? Either way, let me know.
I’ll try to update more during this time (with more uplifting stories).
In the mean time, please wash your hands thoroughly.
My son sings Old MacDonald while I go back and forth between Jesus Remember Me and the Doxology.
You may be quarantined but you’re far from alone.
Finally, we will see what we want to see.
So even in times like these, try to look for the good in people, because there’s so much goodness in the world, because God is in this world and God is good which I realize is rather hypocritical considering this post. But I do have and will share stories to help us look for the good.
Be loved for you are God’s beloved.
and friends, do forgive me for all the grammatical mistakes you may encounter. I hope you were able to figure out what I was trying to say.