a preacher’s confession: i don’t want to be the poor widow

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This Sunday many of us heard the story of poor widow vs. the esteemed, celebrities of the day, scribes. We crucified those braggadocios pharisees who loved to be popular, in the spotlight, let alone rich. Meanwhile Jesus directs His disciples eyes, yours and mine, to the poor widow. She went unseen by the crowds. She had nothing to brag about for many reasons. Her offering to the Lord even went unnoticed. Who needs a penny when a building project costs a million?

Yet our crucified Lord makes it clear that her worthless giving was far greater than a million dollars because she gave all she had. Jesus’ point isn’t about money at all. God doesn’t really need our money. that’s the joke. He also doesn’t need our hearts, as one preacher wrote in a commentary i read. Jesus wasn’t pointing our her giving nor telling us to give like her. He pointed out her peace, her confidence, her trust in the Lord’s providence! May we realize the same. God provides. God has provided more than that widow even knew as the stranger watching her later laid down His life for her, for the world. Jesus gave all that He had so we may enjoy the riches of God’s grace, his forgiveness, His eternal life!

Many a preacher pointed these thing out, yet i fear many a preacher did not hear Christ’s condemnation. I surely didn’t at the time. The question both Mark and His savior are asking of you is – who do you want to be? the poor widow or the popular hero?

To be honest, in an idiotic way, i want to be that scribe with the long flowing robes, the celebrity of the missouri synod, the guy who grew his church out of nothing, the silver tongue preacher. I want to be the recognized hero in Christendom, greeted by others at the conferences, sitting in the best seat and admired from afar at the podium. I want to be a pharisee. God have mercy.

billy_graham

Especially amidst the much advertised crisis of American Christianity, it seems that many a pastor spends his time clamoring to make it big, to save the church, or at least get credit for such a salvation. Like the tower of Babel we want to make a name for ourselves! We want to be noticed! Greeted. Admired. Adored! God have mercy.

I don’t want to be the poor widow unseen by the crowds. Thank God i am. we all are really. we preachers especially have nothing that is our own: our talents, our turns of phrases, our gift of gab, our passionate rhetoric. Its all Gods. He doesn’t need us no matter how much we think we put in the offering plate or in the beautiful deposit of the Church’s literature.

Lord save me from myself. Humiliate me and humble me. Grant me the peace to be content with Your salvation, your providence of my every need. Give me this widow’s peace that i may be free to give all i have whether i am seen or not. Save me from myself that i sincerely serve my neighbor, my brother and sister, my beautiful savior.  May i disappear in your grace.

hands helping

written while listening to ‘sons’ by willing virginia on soundcloud, reading ‘the evidential power of beauty’ by Thomas Dubay, and enjoying God’s gift of scotch with a couple of rocks.

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