How would you live if you were not afraid? Fear is used by politicians to gain our votes, by the media to get our attention, by advertising firms to sell us what we don’t need, and by TV evangelists to get our donations. What fears are used against us? One is scarcity, the fear that we won’t have enough or won’t get our share. Our false belief that having more money and “stuff” will save us binds us as slaves. In many cases, having less can free us to live by faith.
The writer of Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Normally, we read forward from this verse, but the word “Now” is a clue that we should look back. Hebrews 10:39 says, “But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.” Who shrinks back? Those who are afraid. Who are saved? By implication, those who do not shrink back and are not afraid. So fear is not only a faith issue but an issue of our salvation. And is that not what we would expect? What more do we need to be saved from than our worst fears? What good is a savior who does not help us confront our fears? As noted above, our fears are the handles that marketers, politicians, and supervisors often use to control us and bend us to their plans and desires.
But like the pain that warns us of injury and nausea that tells us we are becoming ill, our fear has a positive use: it lets us know our vulnerability, and it tells us what we truly value and truly trust. “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). The powers and principalities promise us what we can see. Where do put our true faith and trust?
Gospel: Mark 12:38-44
After engaging in a series of public arguments with religious leaders in the temple, Jesus contrasts the proud and oppressive ways of those leaders with the sacrificial humility and poverty of the widow.
38As [Jesus] taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
41He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”