You'd better change, or else!

Here's this week's "Opening the Bible" blog entry for i.ucc

We often take the reading from Luke 13:1-9 and find a dire warning about the future. I think we might be missing the point.

In the reading, , Jesus is posed with the question of divine judgment and wrath. The crowds came to him with tragedies and asked if the people involved were being punished for something. How does Jesus respond? NO!And then he sends a message – “Unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.” Why did he say that? Why do we repeat it so often – out of context?Jesus was talking to people who were his followers. And yet he still warned them to repent. Repent from what? Maybe it wasn’t “repent from" – but rather "repent to." Yes – turn away from whatever it is you are doing that is not pleasing to God – but turn to God. God is the only one who saves – not anything we do or say or try saves us.

Some will say that I’m belittling the “repent or perish” language Jesus is using here. So let’s continue looking at the parable Jesus told to help.

It’s all about a fig tree that isn’t bearing fruit. It would make sense to take the resource-hogging tree and cut it down so that the other trees could bear fruit. But Jesus twists things again by telling of the gardener who wants to nurture the tree more.
Yes – I’m neglecting to talk about the “if it doesn’t, you can cut it down part” again. Why? Because the point of the parable isn’t about cutting the tree down – that’s what everyone would expect. The point of the parable is that the gardener wanted to give the tree more time to bear fruit.

How does that relate to us? I think that it tells us – as a church and as individuals, that God has not given up on us. God is still working, caring and nurturing the church and each of us so that we will bear fruit. How long will God wait? I don’t know -- but if “7 days” of creation took billions of years, a “year” would be something close to eternal.

What do you think? Feel free to comment here or join the i.ucc community and comment there!

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