Outreach exists to "Connect
Kids to Community and Communities to Kids." Have you considered having a
mission week for your church? This
is one of my favorite "in-depth" ways of reaching out with the Great News of
Jesus Christ. Activities can include:
Interactive and participative praise concerts for children,
youth, and families;
Morning staff studies on "Authentic Leadership"
and "Building a Culture of Intentional Courtesy"
Brown-Bag Luncheon Studies for your community
focusing on our scriptural call to justice;
In-service for your volunteers or teachers on reaching
today's youth and families with the vibrant, living, message of Jesus
Evening parent seminars based upon two of
Jerry's recent books: "Significant Conversations: Helping Young People
Live Meaningful Lives," and "The Deepest Longing of Young People; Loving
Local networking with other area groups (secular
or faith-based) regarding prevention and intervention strategies for
high-risk and incarcerated youth;
Humorous and thought-provoking school assemblies
(secular or religious, elementary through high school).
Outreach is primarily
supported by your donations and by trainings, workshops, retreats and concerts.
[Lk 18:1] Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,  saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man.  “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’  “For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man,  yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’ “  And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said;  now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?  “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (NAS)
[Lk 18:1] Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.
Not to lose heart
We must remember the context of the readings of the last few chapters in order to understand the framework of this reading. Remember that Luke writes for a Gentile audience. Quite often, he leaves out many topics that are heavy laden with Jewish symbolism.
For this reason, Luke took all three of the Lord’s last trips to Jerusalem and combined them into one trip. He laid out for us – in these last few chapters – the difficult path of being a follower of Christ. He draws the stories to a crescendo in the chapter 17, showing how our Lord chided his disciples for their lack of faith and preaching on the horrors of the last days.
Then, Luke presents a more intimate view of our Savior. Our Lord, perhaps seeing the overwhelmed state of his followers, shifts gears and offers a lesson on hope.
Yet, even as we read this chapter, we will see that it is not the false hope of worldly power or earthly comfort. It is the deeply patient hope of the persistent; a hope for those who endure.
It is one thing to endure “the rat race”; it is another thing to endure life at the deeper level of Christian commitment and persecution. Jesus spent everyday moving one intentional step closer to Jerusalem. He rose every morning and – after dedicating his life to the Father – he became an open book to others. Each day found him pressed upon and pried open and yet – even on his determined march to Golgotha – he remained vulnerable and humble. He endured humility for our sake, modeling the heart of a true child of God.
Does that resemble my walk as a Christian? Do I rise every morning and ask God to take me to the places where I will be the most humble or the most vulnerable? Do I understand that my walk should take me nearer to Jerusalem every day? In this reading, that is where hope is greatest; not in comfort, pride or self-righteousness but in dying to myself every day. That is the path of enduring hope.
 saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man.  “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’  “For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man,  yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’”
A judge who did not fear God and did not respect man
Here is the classic state of justice in the world. When judges “do not fear God and do not respect man,” then justice is a mockery. Justice becomes an economic scale that slides in favor of the rich.
What is justice in my society? Can I say that justice – in my city, county, state or country – is based upon the respect of man and fear of God? Are leaders picked for modeling those qualities? Do I demand fairness and equality from my leaders? Am I banging on the doors of those who do not display it?
And what about my life, my relationships and my church? Have we rid ourselves of the sliding economic scale? Is my theology all wrapped in righteousness and belligerence; judgment and self-satisfaction or do I still leave some room for the fear of God? Whose mystery, greatness, and compassion are beyond my understanding? Does my faith make me more or less tolerant; more or less compassionate?
Is my life, relationships, and church community marked by its respect of all people or only those who serve my (our) interest and believe my (our) way? Is my door open to widows with no advocates? Do the most vulnerable of my community find justice at my door?
In Christ’s day, no one was more abused than the widows and the divorcees and they were especially preyed upon by the Religious Leaders!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.”
Is it any different in our day? The fastest growing group of poor in our nation is among women whose husbands have abandoned them and their children. What would Jesus say to us?
The answer to, “What would Jesus say to us?” is completely dependent upon what I say to those who are abandoned! Am I their advocate? Do they find my door open to them? Does my community not only include them, but intentionally seek them out as Jesus did on his way to Jerusalem?
I pray that we will not come before Jesus as a people that “do not fear God and do not respect man.”
 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said;  now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?  “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
“He will bring about justice for them quickly.”
The word for justice [GSN1557 ekdikesis] is a dual-edged sword. It not only means to give justice but it also means to exact punishment. When we say, “life is not fair,” nine times out of ten it is because we (humans) have made it so. In most cases, either someone did not give justice or someone took it away. Christ’s justice will be given to those from whom it was stolen and exacted from those withheld it from others. Upon which side of that coin will I be found?
Have I – and my community – begun to practice his kingdom? Am I living out God’s will? Has His “kingdom come” into my relationships yet?
“However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
Here at the end of the story is the challenge of Jesus, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
Jesus preaches a faith that is culturally unfamiliar to most of us. Faith is comforting to the enduring disciple; but faith should never make us comfortable. Faith is found in the follower who never stops pushing himself right to the very end. Faith is found in persistence, advocacy, and the enduring quest for justice. Like a muscle, faith grows with trials and atrophies with lack of use. It is comforting but not comfortable.
“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
One could also say; “When the Son of Man comes, will He find enduring disciples, persistent disciples. Will he find champions of widows and orphans?”
On that day, He promises to “bring about justice for them quickly.” Upon which side of that sword will the Lord find me? We I be demanding justice for others or will I be someone who is “brought to justice?”
Lord, please help me to choose the path of enduring hope.
The New Testament Greek Lexicon based on Thayer’s and
Smith’s Bible Dictionary plus others; this is keyed to the large Kittel and the
“Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.” These files are public domain.
The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon is Brown, Driver,
Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon; this is keyed to the “Theological Word Book of the Old
Testament.” These files are considered public domain.