This story of the Shunemite woman teaches how unexpected leaders can come out and change lives. It is always riveting to hear about a child or a poor person helps an adult or rich person out of a mess. It shows that God can have a sense of humor, but more importantly it shows how God can change the world and that He can do it with even weak people. The Shunemite woman is surprising is that she is living in the Middle East around 3000 years ago and she is someone’s wife. What that meant was that she was not supposed to be the one doing the inviting. The husband was. So it was strange to have the woman do that inviting. Also, she invites a highly revered man of God into her home with a method that was not encouraged.
God has this knack for asking people to do impossible, taboo things that culture deems inappropriate. For example, take the pacifist mennonites during World War II who refused to fight and were forced to work in other situations that were dangerous. These people were expected to fight in a war regardless of convictions and were put into situations that might scare them into conforming. To the surprise of our country, the opposite happened. When these pacifists had to interact in the dangerous situations, they ended up changing there surroundings with love. The dangerous people they worked with began to be more peaceful and manageable. If we follow what God has for His people, we can see the world change unexpectedly. Many people may say that we should be careful or fiscally responsible, but what is missed when we follow that advice is the very thing that makes a hero of the faith. This thing is a primitive faith that is willing to grow in God’s direction. Instead of resting on what the World says is the straight path of convenience and conformity, we follow a God who made reality and can guide to the places where we will be most effective for His kingdom and the peace that He brings.
One other amazing thing about this woman is that she never really asks for anything in return. That is one characteristic of the hero of faith that should never be missed. Selfless living is one of the primary virtues that Jesus and His follows preached through their ministries here on earth. When we fight to change the world, it has to be selfless and loving. We cannot continue to expect coercion to be the sword of the Spirit. We have to make Jesus words to us the sword. When we do that we will see the hearts of unbelievers pierced. But we will have to accept that our hearts need continual piercings too. We Christians tend to pick up our own swords and use them to change people. These swords might be hate speech, law, legalism, gossip, and other things that try to change others through guilt and shame. Jesus however wants us to God and love others. Both are equally important and that is how the world knows us. To change the world, we have to be an community of ever changing people who are continually pierced by the love of God. If we finally do that, we will see God work. We will also at times receive unexpected rewards in God’s own timing, much like the Shunemite woman becoming pregnant. But we must not act with the desire to receive. We need to act with giving as our God given purpose.
There are people who would say a hero is defined by power, control, and sometimes, how much he owns. In a community of faith, it is different. We defined our heroes by who is generous, serving, and being kind to others. This may not be the way the world has always done it, but it is the way that will change things. It will redirect humanity onto a better path. It’s a path that is defined by the cross of Jesus. What that means is that when we live this life, we have to go to the edge of our experiences and then go even further, even to the point of death. If you have never served, take the next simple servant action available to you. If you are not generous, give some money away to someone who really needs it. If you are already doing the things that God has called humanity to do, go further. Do not stop running the race just because you think you have beaten the guy next to you. Let’s finish the work God has given to us. If we settle we fail. If we keep moving, we will win.