Reflections on Luke 18:1-8
It can be hard to know where to start when we feel the nudge to advocate for justice. How do we find out who to contact? Do we email, call, or show up in person? Will our one voice matter? It can also be scary to think of reaching out to have a conversation with the lawmakers who represent us. One powerful way to begin advocating for our vulnerable neighbors is with prayer. In fact, we can see how Jesus emphasized the importance of praying for our needs and the needs of others throughout the Gospels. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples the parable of the persistent widow to illustrate how important it is to pray and never give up.
In the story we find a judge who did not honor God or care about people and a widow whose rights were being violated. The widow continuously went before the judge to ask for justice. At first, he paid no attention to her, but because he was tired of being pestered by her, he finally granted her request for justice so that she would leave him alone. Jesus says, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”
The widow never gave up in her pursuit of justice for herself. The unjust judge eventually granted her the justice she sought because he was tired of her persistent requests and wanted an end to what he considered her constant pestering. If this judge was willing, however begrudgingly, to rule on the side of justice, how much more will God, who is just, grant justice when we are consistent in coming to him with our petitions on behalf of our vulnerable neighbors?
It is not within our power to bend the hearts of our lawmakers toward justice, but it is within God’s. It is not within our abilities to open people’s eyes to the injustice reflected in the current immigration policies of our country, but it is within God’s. Jesus has not asked us to change hearts and minds, He asks us only to pray continuously for the justice we seek for vulnerable people. And He asks us to not give up praying no matter how long it seems to be taking for our petitions to be granted. Our God is a God of justice and our prayers for justice honor him, honor those on whose behalf we are praying, and honor our own selves.
When we feel overwhelmed at the thought of advocating and are unsure how or where to begin, let’s begin by starting a conversation with God and, like the persistent widow, let’s continue it for as long as it takes until He, our just God, fulfills our requests on behalf of our neighbors.
Written by Jenifer Wellman, We Welcome Community Liaison for Pennsylvania. This post accompanies our upcoming advocacy guide, The Everyday Guide to Change the World: Engage Democracy Like a Pro. You can preorder a copy of the FREE guide here.