Our time with the Sermon on the Mount is drawing to a close. This Sunday, we will ponder Matthew 7: 15-23. What part jumps out at you?
Perhaps it is the warning about false prophets that seems timely, those people who seem sheeplike from the outside but are ferocious wolves inside. These days, I'm even more worried about the ones who don't bother to disguise themselves. I know I should be grateful--at least I know my enemies. But the unguarded ferocity of our times never ceases to worry me.
I am always struck by good fruit and bad fruit, and always, my inner voice of worry pipes up. What if I'm bad fruit? What if I'm going to be cut down and thrown in the fire?
I'm not sure that Jesus meant for us to identify with the fruit itself. A Lutheran minister friend of mine, David Eck, just preached on the seeds that land in a variety of soil, and he has chosen to view the metaphor differently. He says that we're not the seeds, but the soil. There are no bad seeds--what good news!
But we're not completely off the hook. Eck continues, "When we see ourselves as the field, an interesting thing happens: The need to label others stops, and all the finger pointing gets turned in toward ourselves." (for the complete sermon, go here: https://jesusunboxed.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/no-bad-seeds-we-are-the-field-mt-1324-30/)
No matter whether or not we see ourselves as good fruit trees, bad fruit trees, or the soil that holds us all, there's still improvement that can be made. I think of my parched petunias on my porch. Once they grew so vibrantly, and now the summer is taking its toll. But I still water them. I still hope for a revival.
Likewise, we, too can nourish our spiritual lives. We can make the chance for good fruit more likely. The ways we do this will be as varied as our human existences. Some of us will turn off our gadgets and devices. Some of us will head out to be in natural surroundings more. Some of us will add some devotional time. Some of us will paint. Some of us will invite the neighbors over for dinner.
God is not the harsh gardener who will chop us down and throw us into the fire. Frankly, God doesn't have to do that. We marinate in the bad choices that we've made, and that's punishment enough.
But the Good News comes again and again. Death doesn't have the final word. Resurrection awaits. Choose your spiritual manure and get to work bearing good fruit.