Reluctant to Change
Faithful God, God of change and permanence, transitions and stability, I need help in relating to all that is temporal.
Read Luke 13:1-9
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Repentance is ultimate honesty” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor, 1906-45).
Bad news draws an audience. The temptation is either to blame the victims or else blame God. Yet such philosophical speculation brings neither comfort nor clarity. The problem of evil remains a mystery, whose explanation often lies beyond our comprehension. Jesus uses two incidents, a massacre and a building accident, to remind the hearers of the fragility of life. In line with all that has gone immediately before, they warn us to get ready now. We do not know what may lie ahead for us. Instead of judging others, or even God, we should prepare for our own judgment.
That requires a radical rethinking and decisive action, both of which are encompassed in the word “repent.” The need to come clean rather than cover up is not an instinctive response, but it is the only healthy one. We have become experts at shifting the blame, wriggling out of responsibility, and only repentance stops that madness. Fail to do that and, when the dust settles, it is life as before and we trudge along the same dead-end road. Tragedy should awaken us to our need to be right with God and others, but unless we act, then business as usual will soon become our default position.
Jesus illustrates his point by the story of the fig tree. Good conditions for growth were chosen and care provided. Time was allowed because figs take some years to appear. Yet eventually fruit is expected. If no fruit appears, commercial considerations come into play. The tree is blocking sunlight and draining nutrients from the soil. Decisive action is postponed on the personal pleading of the gardener and a time-limited extension of grace is given. The question remains open: will it make a difference? For Jesus’ hearers also, an answer is required.
We don’t like being told we have to change, but sometime we need to. Ask God to show you any changes needed in your life so it can be more fruitful.
Father God, gardener of my life, thank You for Your patience with me and my slow growth. Help me to bear good fruit for You in my life.
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