Wednesday, September 21, 2016
While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” Luke 21:1-4(NLT)
As Jesus sat watching people enter the Temple, human nature paraded our common instinct to get a bargain. The rich pared-off a little of their surplus to put in the collection box, so as to satisfy cultural and religious rituals. They bought God out of their lives for another week.
C.S. Lewis quoted the great preacher George MacDonald:
“’God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.’
[And then Lewis explained:]
I think every one who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam or of a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits.”[ii]
What did Lewis mean by real Christianity? His answer (in his book Mere Christianity), was the analogy of a child who begs his father for a little money so he can buy Dad a birthday present. No matter what present is forthcoming, the child may have handed a store clerk some cash, but it was the father who paid for his gift.
In the same way, everything we have is given to us by God: breath, life, family, home, job…it is all His; it is amazing how we think we can strike a bargain with God using any of that, promising to be good, give this, do that, be something, cease going there, or accomplishing a revolution. The question remains: are we trying to buy God? What part of “not mine…His” do we not grasp?
Real Christianity understands Who is God…and who is not!
I think I fail that most days. I have a nature that wants to organize things into a neatly-framed structure that separates this part of life into that box, that concept into secular, those days into religious. I see actions as approved in Scripture, or condemned, and leaving little room for gray area. Above all, I want to cover all the bases, in case I forgot something important. That’s my nevertheless, not my will, but thine part of the prayer.
And that’s me, putting into the collection plate my tithe check – and a little more, thank you very much – to buy God’s friendship.
And then, there’s that disturbing widow who takes everything she has and dumps it in the collection plate. Show off; quite annoying, really!
Real Christianity begins when I realize the widow has preached a better sermon than whatever passes for my preaching. She accurately represented who God is in her life – the one and only hope for her past, present and future. God is her all, so she acts like it. She stopped trying to buy God and placed herself in His care.
And Jesus said: BOOM….THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!
That, of course, is a loose translation, but accurate nonetheless. Jesus saw the humility of thankful worship in this poverty-stricken woman and highlighted for His followers what a genuinely powerful influence for God will look like.
The widow didn’t blow her own trumpet; REAL CHRISTIANITY never has to.
If you have a tendency to tally-up what you’ve given to the Lord, try not-looking at what you’ve given, try looking at what you have left.
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