Everyone swore the woman was crazy. She lived in a nice little house. It was a
Victorian style two story cottage. Upstairs was an apartment and downstairs were four rooms just the right size for a widow like herself to live in. It was even in a nice location: just across the street from a little Methodist church in a small town. She owned the house outright, yet she said that it belonged to Jesus.
Therein lies the roots of her insanity. Now, if that were the whole story people would have called her “spiritual” or “religious,” but they knew the rest of the story, so they said she was crazy. You see she and her husband had lived in that house for years. After decades of marriage he decided to run off with a younger woman. So he abandoned his wife and took up with a younger woman and filed for divorce.
In the settlement she got the house. The judge had decided and the courts of the state declared it was her house. Yet she insisted it was Jesus’ house. But that’s not the whole story. If the story had stopped there, people would have understood.
You see this ex-husband of hers who had abandoned her and cheated on her, got cancer. He was dying and he had no money and no one to care for him. Seems right after all he did to her. And there she was sitting in her house, excuse me, Jesus’ house, with an apartment upstairs. So what does she do? She takes the cheating adulterous so and so into her, that is Jesus’ house, puts him in that upstairs apartment and nurses the little cheater until he dies. And that is why everyone swore she was crazy.
I guess that is what people thought about that widow in Jesus day. When Jesus came to the temple he looked around and saw all the religious leaders walking around in the long flowing robes. They liked the position of honor and power that they possessed. They enjoyed the greetings from the people in the market and the invitations to all the best dinners. But Jesus saw their hypocrisy. They devoured widows’ houses for their own personal gain and then made long pretentious prayers to make themselves look righteous.
Then Jesus saw this widow. She didn’t have a long robe. In fact her clothes were obviously worn and patched. And she put two coins in the offering plate. The only two coins she had.
I am sure people thought she was insane. To give her last two coins into the care of the very people Jesus accused of devouring widow’s houses. But Jesus praised her. She realized that these coins were not hers. They were God’s. God had given them to her and she could do little with them. She could not feed herself for long with these two coins. Maybe the God who rained down bread from heaven could make better use of them.
This is a lesson in true religion. This is what it means to have faith in God. To truly surrender it all to God. The Pharisees had so much and made a show of their devotion to God. But in reality they had given nothing to God. This widow on the other hand had given all she had because she trusted God.
But that is all fine and dandy. We should all go around saying that our cars and houses and bank accounts belong to Jesus. It sounds a little strange, but that is acceptable. We are Christians and supposedly we have given our lives to Jesus, so all we have belongs to him.
If you do that people will call you “religious” or “spiritual” and even applaud you. But that is not enough. That is just a pious show like that of the Pharisees. People will applaud you and ask you over to dinner if you do that. That is false religion. God wants; no, demands more.
Let me get more concrete. It is fine to say that your car belongs to Jesus. Like I said that is a little different, but it is socially acceptable. It is quite another thing to loan your car out to your neighbor when theirs is broken. People will say, but what about the insurance? It is also another thing to loan it out when it means that you and your spouse have to share your other car or when you don’t have another car to share.
It is fine to say that your house belongs to Jesus. People will accept that as a statement of faith and applaud it. But God asks more. It is another thing to open your house to those in need; even when they are perfect strangers. Even to open your home to the very people that hurt you in the past.
It is nice to say that all you have belongs to God. And it looks nice when you put that extra money you didn’t spend last month into the offering plate or to give some spare time to serving God. People will say, “Isn’t that a religious person.” But it is quite another to give your last two cents to God. That is crazy!
This is the lesson in true religion. What most people call religion is the kind of thing the Pharisees did. The world says you are religious if you go to church every now and then and give some extra income and time to the church. They say you are religious if you look religious. But true religion is quite another thing. True religion is sacrificing everything for God’s glory. True religion is giving your home, your car, your very life for the will of God.
You want to know what true religion is. It is Jesus the Son of God, the author of life and Goodness, dying on a cross. Now that’s crazy! A sinless person giving their life for a worthless wretch like me! That’s insane! The author of life dying for a race of ungrateful creatures like us! Giving his body to be broken and his blood to be shed to pay for my sins!
In a few Sundays we will be asking everyone to make a pledge for next year. The tradition among Christians and in the Bible is to give 10% or a tithe to Christian ministries. I encourage you to give a tithe, 10% of your income, or if you are not already tithing to increase the percentage of your income you do give. But that means nothing if you have not given yourselves to God. Putting yourself at God’s disposal to be used as God sees fit is what really matters.
That is true religion. Don’t just say you have given it all to Jesus. Really give yourself totally to God. Be sold out for Jesus. People will say you are crazy, but Jesus will point to you and say, “This poor child has given more. This one was sold out for my kingdom.”
|Nov 8, 2015||A Lesson in True Religion||Listen||Download|