Luke 18:1-8 ESV 1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the shootings of the police officers in Dallas during a peaceful demonstration. There are many issues at the root of this and the other protests and violence going on around our country and the world, and Christ’s words here in Luke 18 address them powerfully.
Evil is still an issue. Yesterday’s events once again highlight the evil that lurks in every place seeking to bring destruction to mankind. It takes different forms in different situations, but it all comes from the same place – Satan and his team of fallen angels preying on fallen humanity to bring as much destruction as he can as an insult to God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Though we cry out for peace in our world, our battle is not a fleshly one, it’s a spiritual battle that gets played out in the physical world around us. Every life matters, and Satan is at war with every human and seeks to destroy them using willing human partners as his primary strategy. Were it not for God’s mercy, this world would be in a hopeless situation. Though race hatred is at the center of the horrific situation in Dallas, it is a symptom of a greater issue – the sin that runs through all mankind and ruins those enslaved by it.
The Gospel is still the answer. We are not in a hopeless situation because God has given us the antidote for this world’s ills in the Gospel. In Christ, God is reconciling to Himself all who will respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ bringing them freedom as His new creation. But what about the violence, the killings and injustice we see so clearly on a daily basis? Until the Lord returns, these will all still manifest, because most of mankind resists God and His rule over them and become pawns of the devil. But the Gospel is the power of God for salvation, and we are living proof that the indwelling and empowering Holy Spirit changes lives. We must champion the Gospel and seek to live out its fruit, beginning with Christ’s love flowing through us. We must not pull back but courageously press on and keep Christ as our center. And, we must be willing to lay down our lives for the sake of a world that is increasingly hostile in our time. We don’t do it by killing innocent people or strapping bombs to ourselves, but we live it out by learning to live like Christ, willingly loving our enemies, praying for them and even being willing to lay down our lives for them. That does not mean we don’t seek justice – but we are first and foremost to seek God and ask for His justice which will be consummated in our world at the return of His Son.
Prayer must still be our number 1 strategy. In the parable above, Jesus tells us the point of the parable right off the bat – he wants us to pray always and to not lose heart. He knows what we are facing, and He is still confident in His plan. Jesus is still the answer to a lost and dying world, and we are called to be His hands and His feet in bringing the Spirit-led peaceful works of justice throughout the world. However, our part to play begins with prayer which is the first work of faith. And our gracious, loving God is more than willing to help us as seen in the parable’s contrast between God and the unrighteous judge. But we must play our part by responding to this world’s injustice first with prayer.
This parable comes right after Jesus talks about His return at the end of the age. When He comes, He will satisfy the demands of justice once for all. To those who have received Him, the justice that God exacted on His Son will mercifully save us from His wrath, because we are all guilty of sin; to those who reject God’s love for them in Christ, they will suffer God’s wrath on their own for their sin. And in the meantime, God waits patiently so that all who would turn to Christ can come. And in that longsuffering of the Father, this world suffers as sin and evil march on in those who resist the Father. But God is so confident in the work of His Son on the cross and what Jesus accomplished for mankind, that He continues on with His plan – the life and love of His Son being expressed through all those in Christ to a world filled with hostility that emanates straight from hell.
Paul said it this way, “… but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” (Romans 5:20).
The important thing to remember is that grace is God’s power working in us, and the forces of hell are no match for His power working in and through us. That power works to transform us from the inside out. Grace also works to help us live out Christ’s mission. And in our world, that is very costly. Let’s first start by investing our time in prayer faithfully for the grace of God to be manifest in our world in anticipation of His return. Let’s pray for all of those affected by the injustice of evil. Then, let’s continue to abandon ourselves to be instruments of His grace to this world no matter what the cost.