On this journey of revelation we make new discoveries of ancient truths. It is like being a great Indiana Jones character looking for all that lost treasure. Sometimes it feels like running from the blow darts through a maze of swinging blades. Other times it is standing on the top of a great mountain with a breathtaking view. The best ones are when we break free of chains of old religious paradigms and step into the glorious light of freedom! Don’t you love those moments? I do. But…it can make your head hurt for a moment or two. Want some of that? OK, you asked for it.
I’ve been reading Robert Capon and his treatment on the parables of Jesus. It is quite challenging and refreshing. He has a real knack of making you turn your head to the side and make that “what?” face. Then something comes into view and you say “wow, it was there all the time.” The parable of the Crooked Judge is one of those moments I’d like to share. Many translations call it the parable of the persistent widow. Capon suggests that, in a way, God is the crooked judge. Like many parables there are many applications but to see God as the unjust judge in this one really blew me away.
First what this parable is NOT: It is not a reminder by Jesus (who came to eliminate the need for religion) to keep up with our religious practices. He has already spoken about praying and making a show of it and all that. No, He is giving us a pep talk. He is encouraging us to persist in our faith of His faithfulness. God isn’t annoyed by us. That isn’t the point of the parable. God is the one that brings justice His way and He is always in our favor and still just even when we think (in our fallen wisdom) He has crossed a line.
What I like about the parable is the God character is responding to the woman’s insistence for justice but He gives her justice on His terms. In the same way God breaks our “rules” of justice to silence our complaining about our fallen understanding of justice. What we wanted on our terms he gives on his terms. While we were still sinners…Jesus dies. Can you see? In our stubborn insistence on human contrived justice, we refuse to accept His free Grace of our redemption and reconciliation and inclusion and total forgiveness and acceptance and absolute assurance. We want instead to insert our qualifiers on His justice. In our religious trappings we insist on our action and approval and permission. We throw down the gauntlet of “you must believe” and “you must know what we know” and “accept my doctrine and tradition.” We take what is free and unconditional and add human conditions. We think we know better than this unjust Judge. We declare with fury and wrath “it isn’t fair to include them! They didn’t do what I’ve done our believed what I have believed or been in the group that I say is the right group.” It drives so many crazy to see someone included in the family that didn’t get their approval. Sadly that includes their own inclusion. Fallen Adam thinking sees the inclusion of everyone as gross unfairness.
Then humans do what fallen Adam must do to stay sane and safe and of course fair…they create an angry God. We take our sense of fairness based on forbidden-fruit wisdom (institutionalized by the finest pagan minds of Greek cosmology and philosophy) and craft an image of God that is not Jesus. We fashion a God out of the shame of our inability to perform perfectly (according to fallen fruit expectations). Said simply fallen mankind tried hard and sucked at doing right. When God added Law we tried even harder and found we sucked even more. All of that self-effort was a fallen Adam curse. Out of disgust with ourselves we projected our anger on God and he became the super-size of us. “He must be fair like we are fair and just like we are just and …blah blah blah!”
Jesus came to show us the one true God who is not an angry perfectionist but is the one who will become the very thing we believe God hates the most, namely our Sin. He finds our redemption in death and weakness. Jesus comes to be the least, lost and last of all of us. Jesus became our Sin. He didn’t run from our Sin or have to punish our Sin or get disgusted by our Sin. Jesus and the Father are one. God became our Sin. He stepped into our crap and brought us home. He stepped into our shame and loved us into beauty.
He is the unjust judge. He does it His way which breaks every mold of fictional fairness we can contrive in our hearts and minds. That is why we humans, under the fear of religion, will create a monster g.o.d. who needs a human sacrifice of his own son to get over hating us? What is more pagan than a person who worships a g.o.d.who desires a child sacrifice. That g.o.d. is called Molech or Diablo.
That is why God chose the incarnation as our reconciliation. That is why the “inside out” is so important. We agree with our death and give up our right to agree with the false-life and wisdom of Adam. That dude is dead. Our reliance on that pagan wisdom is vaporized. Our need for good-bad fairness is swallowed up in the death of the one who died at the hands of unfairness. Who never deserved death? Jesus. Who killed him? We did. Who is insistent on cosmic fairness and commits the ultimate crime of unfairness? We did. In that glorious judo move Jesus took all of us and our fallen thinking right into the dirt and left any thought or need or desire or insistence or capacity or reliance on Adam in the ground forever. Now our lives are in His life. To think we are apart from Him or somehow not included in His life is to reject light of life Himself. To say “we are out” or someone else is “out” is to embrace the darkness itself instead of the light that shines in the darkness.
Reject Him if we must but it does not change the truth of the incarnation. The good news is still good news whether we believe it or not. We can kick and scream and continue to agree with our kind of fairness or we can just accept our death and live His life of fairness. Either way, at some point, even those who reject the fairness of God in this life will meet fairness in the next. Now they will get to accept or keep rejecting the unconditional acceptance of Jesus. That is the ultimate move of the crooked judge.
He picks up His gavel and prepares for the final whack on the judgment seat. All of heaven listens with bated breath in anticipation of what they have seen over and over again. The moment never loses it excitement. The God of the universe, the Holy Holy Holy of all creation is about to speak. In a voice so tender and loving and kind (which always brings tears of joy) He asks the defendant a simple question:”will you let me love you?”
This is His question for us right now. It does come with strings. Surprised? To experience His love and salvation and assurance and the fullness of Him, we have to…wait for it…die. We have never been in control. Our death is our ultimate “do nothing” move. Jesus already finished it and didn’t ask our permission. We were killed with Him on the cross. Will we agree and accept unconditional acceptance or wish for a “more fair judge?”
Aren’t you glad we have a crooked judge by fallen Adam standards? I can’t imagine anyone getting past the judge that we would choose, can you?