Up Close and Personal

Luke 18.1-8, 35-43

Luke’s Gospel is a game changer. His story of Jesus’ Kingdom turns the world upside down. Luke describes Jesus as flipping things inside out. Nothing would ever be the same particularly the heart (inward) that would eventually change the outward life style of every believer! Throughout the CEV, the authors use the words to change their hearts and lives to indicate true repentance. True repentance is two fold: the inward deep change and the outward incremental experience of change. Habits are hard to break when they are deeply held beliefs in the heart. However, if we take action we don’t always hold deep believes to go with those actions. Actions can represent only incremental changes in our daily walk.

According to Robert Quinn, there are two kinds of change in life – incremental and deep – that are required for us to evaluate. Both have value, yet deep change seems to create the place where Kingdom transactions can take place in a person’s life. Incremental change is the steps one might take to accomplish a task or finish a goal. It usually has small ramifications in nature, and is reversible if the steps do not work. For the most part incremental change costs us very little in our daily routines – a blip on the radar of everyday living. And, we will soon return to our usual patterns of living. One the other hand, deep change requires a paradigm shift in our thinking processes. It is major in scope, and discontinuous with out past life experiences. For the most part deep change is irreversible although backsliding is possible. Most significantly deep change requires that we give up control and manipulation.

Jesus is going for the jugular as we say in our culture today (be aggressive or unrestrained in making an attack) with a very disconcerting (unsettling) story of an unjust judge and a nagging woman. Jesus teaches his followers about the importance of continual prayer. Further, Jesus instructs his followers not to become discouraged (lose heart, become weary, turn cowardice, or give into evil). The unjust judge does not fear God nor respect people striking at the heart of all the commandments! The widow would only go to the judge without an advocate in the most dire straits. She would plead with him to take up her case. She was continually rejected as a matter of indifference and belittling. Yet by repeatedly coming she created an unpleasant scene and embarrassed the judge so that he granted her the hearing. Jesus teaches that God is even a better at answering prayer than this unjust judge! Just will come quickly to those who are righteous. But Jesus leaves us with a question that gives me this funny taste in my mouth …will he find faithfulness on earth? A cliffhanger to be sure!

To be sure faith takes us to the deep change necessary for our lives to be transformed to be like the Kingdom of God. Faith can be described as trust and holy fear in God. Faith is the conviction that God exists, and is the creator and sustainer of all things. Faith moves one to respond to one’s beliefs. Faith yields to the divine. Faith trusts in the promises of God.

Think about your current prayer life. Where are the places that need incremental change? Where are the places that require deep change? In the story about Bartimaeus, a blind man shouting at Jesus along the roadside. Jesus invites Bartimaeus into a dialogue, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18.41). This question invites Bartimaeus into deep change that will alter his whole life! Bartimaeus responsed, “Lord, I want to see” (Luke 18.41). The healing of Bartimaeus created dynamic not static change. He could not remain as he was. His identity had changed. No longer was he blind. He could not work for a living not relying on others for support. Jesus was all about deep change experiences. Everywhere he traveled, with the many conversations, and continual encounters with people he met along the way. Each left the encounter with the opportunity for deep change in their lives.

What would you say if you met Jesus on your road today? Would you find yourself willing to make the deep changes necessary to experience life? Would you choose an incrementally slow death?


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