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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington

“For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming’.” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:4-8). A second look at Luke’s ‘Faith’, this single tradition parable—‘The Unjust Judge’.

The ‘Fear of God’ is a major theme of Old Testament faith and is a teaching found throughout the Biblical Wisdom Books. To be sure, as it is written— ‘The Fear of God IS the beginning of Wisdom’. In the ancient Greek pantheon, ‘Phobos’ /Fear IS a god who is both real and powerful. The deity Phobos is the one who ‘causes terror’ and is placed just after Zeus and before all other gods.

By New Testament, the concept ‘phobos/fear’ has had a long history and always denotes ‘a reaction’ when (hu)man encounters force. This reaction is tied to emotions which run a range of senses from— ‘terror’; ‘anxiety’; ‘flight’; startle’; to— ‘respect’; ‘awe’; ‘honour’; and even ‘reverence’. The ‘Fear of God’ as it brings wisdom and knowledge into a life, bestows an inheritance of protection, direction, guidance, counsel, and peace which enables that life to fear nothing other than God. This Judge, by his own admission, had no terror, no fear, no awe, no honor, no reverence for God.

Not only does this official say of himself that he neither fears God and, also— he has no regard for man! Having been elected or selected to this position to serve men, he is moved to respond to the needs of his people only when they reach the point of a nuisance in persistence, ‘continual coming’. At this point it becomes about him— ‘she will wear me out!’

I am so tempted to speak in our times of ‘elected officials’ whose every act is ‘all about self’! More so of ‘Pastors who seek Elected Official Positions’. It is time to celebrate Martin Luther King’s understanding of his ‘calling of the Heads of States to Repentance’ as he led Pastors in what has become one of the most important movements in American Social Justice History. Pastor as Politician, I suspect, causes great damage to “The Separation of Church and State”, yea, even causing this CRITICAL LINE of Demarcation to… disappear. That Dr. William Barber? A very REAL Pastor speaking to Pharoah to… “Let my People Go!” From the STEPS of every State House across the Nation. The “Call to Repentance”, as only The Pastor can do!

“Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” We look at one official and call for impeachment holding a trial for ‘crimes of passion’; wherein the injury is only done to the individual by way of pride and character. Then we turn our heads on another official who has yet to be tried for ‘crimes of war’ and ‘armed robbery’ of his entire nation’s financial resources wherein the injury is done to millions in the loss of life; home; on and on and on. But, you do the math. It is no small thing that in a rare occurrence, Jesus uses an adjective to speak of a biblical character— in this case, this Judge, Luke records Jesus saying, is ‘adikias/unrighteous – unjust’.

Aristotle’s Ethics describes the ‘adikias’ as ‘a violator of law’; which is soon used for those who ‘uphold the law as violators of law’. Once the concept enters the religious sphere most particularly the Judeo-Christian tradition where ‘The Law’ is of major concern, the ‘adikias’, the unrighteous, the unjust, is the ‘violator of divine law’. And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous- unjust judge says.” His offense is no longer just against man, but now against God. Oh, but that’s right. This Judge has already admitted that he has no regard for God or man!

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