Monday, December 21, 2015

Fear Not [no.27]

So, I'm going against my own guidelines already, as it suits me. Here is a person-to-person "fear not" message instead of God speaking to person. It's one of my favorite Bible stories, so I had to explore it. It's so heart-wrenching and powerful...

Elijah asks the widow woman to give the last bit of her flour and oil to him, God's prophet, though she knows that surely she and her son will die of starvation if she does so. But she makes Elijah his loaf of bread first, and behold, God's miracle: she never runs out. Later, though, the son does die, but when Elijah prays over him God returns the boy's life to him.

This is a lovely foreshadowing of the Eucharist and the Son returning to life. There is always enough bread, God's body, for us. Through prayer and God's grace, our lives are returned to us.

Now I am not especially fond of Abundance Theology...  the notion that if you have faith you will be rewarded financially with a life of comfort and ease. I'm sure this story is used to support that line of thinking, but I think it's exploitative and uses doubt and insecurities as a motivator--and often, this theology is used to line a preacher's own pockets. It further excludes a hard look at the economic realities of the world. (Not to mention that "not starving to death" hardly means a life of comfort and ease.) Besides, Jesus, time and time again, shuns material wealth and accumulation. 

The lesson here, I believe, is a reminder to be generous, to not be afraid to do what is difficult. Elijah promises her that she will not run out. And though she was prepared to die, when given this hope, she seized it. Logic and the ingrained human drive for self-preservation would have probably said otherwise... It begs us look at the our need for self-preservation and where it may lead us astray.

There are modern parallels here for us, too. We will surely die, just as the widow and her son. No escaping that reality, and we, too, are given a chance to live generously, with the promise it will make the world better. Whatsoever you do for the least of these, you do for me. Forget the personal reward of a ticket to celestial-Heaven, eternal life, or monetary wealth here in this time... To live generously mends the broken world here, helps to bring a Heaven on earth, now.

Fear not.

For an explanation of this Fear Not series, read my first post on the nature of fear.

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