There are some little stories tucked away in the Gospels that have huge impact. Both of them have women as one of the leading characters. Both of the women work hard at fading into the background and in both stories Jesus puts the spotlight on them. One is the story of the widows offering in Mark 12 and the other is found two chapters forward in the same book. It focuses on another kind of offering.
The stories go like this, Jesus and the disciples are in the Temple. They are listening to Him do what He normally does in the Temple: teach simple things that become controversial as soon as the leaders hear them. They are standing near the offering box, watching the line of people depositing their money. The rich visibly deposited large sums of money. And in the middle of the flashy crowd a poor widow is hid. Her offering is not even heard as she drops her pennies in the box. She is invisible to all but Jesus. He says she has given more than anyone else there on that day because she gave all she had.
The next story takes place around a dinner table. The leading lady appears with a flask of expensive perfume, walks over to Jesus and empties it and pours it on Jesus. The party around the table sees this as a waste. They immediately tell her what she did was wrong. Jesus tells them to “leave her alone.” He says her actions were beautiful, that she did what she could do in light of the cross and that her story would be told because of it.
These are two stories that never wanted to be told. They were not done for the limelight. The main characters never sought attention, here or anywhere. They liked to be in the background, but Jesus pulls them into the light. Why? Because they saw something no one else saw. They understood something everyone else was confused about. They knew the Kingdom was never going to be about money and would always be about sacrifice. As a result of their choices great change has taken place.
The culture that surrounded these ladies was hostile to the work and stance of the Kingdom of God. We find ourselves in a similar culture today. We must understand that large sums of money and great big power moves are not going to affect the change we want to see. Only great sacrifice will bring about change.
Change in the Kingdom does not come from petitions, executive orders or votes. Change comes by the hand of God as the Christian(s) seeks the will of the Father and He reveals it. Change comes as the Church sees its sin and brokenness and willingly submits to the ready hand of the Spirit, our Healer and Leader, to restore. Change does not come by simply moving forward with new ideas and high sounding visions. Change comes as we embrace the downside and hope for the uptick, desperately calling out for God to create in us a new heart and a contrite spirit; begging for a hungering and thirsting of the things of God. Change does not come through arguments, skilled leaders or manipulation. Change comes often in the Kingdom through the hands of weak leaders, soft conversations, quiet prayer meetings and sacrifice. God always honors brokenness and He rarely honors position. He always honors desperation for Him and He rarely honors pushiness. And He will not be mocked.
I think the last statement is what a lot of our pandering for power is: mocking the God of Heaven who controls all and is all. Our money, arguments and ideas sound like kids toys from His vantage point. The more we push the more we appear to be kindergarteners. The humble and broken are the ones that get His attention. Those who give all they have are the ones who will be change makers. The ones who put themselves in positions of faithful obedience even if it means public ridicule…these are the ones who make waves in the Kingdom.
Is change needed today? There is no question about it. Every level of society from government down to social media is ripe for change. Our society reeks of pride, arrogance, selfishness and hatred toward others. It is pushy, ugly, rude and has a know-it-all attitude. It knows no shame. And it will never, ever change if the Church meets it with the same, in-kind attitude. Who can bring about change? People like the widow and the prostitute. The ones who have nothing to give but give everything. They set the bar higher than the richest people in the world could ever reach. They have their eyes in the only place that matters: on the only character in the story that matters, Jesus.