Peace – Prayer – Joy – Love

Of Gardeners And Judges

  1. Do We Even Know How To Repent?
    1. Lent is a season of repentance – What does it mean to repent?
    2. But what are we repenting from? What if we have the wrong idea?
    3. Instead of repenting and turning to follow Jesus, we make more laws.
  2. Maybe We Should Repent Of Judging. We’re Bad Judges Anyway.
    1. Pharisees judge. It’s like their favorite pastime. It’s about control & piety
    2. We love to judge others. We love to draw lines for who’s in & out
    3. We forget that God alone is the rightful judge. Judging isn’t even for us.
      1. Matt 7:1-2 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.
        For with the judgment you make you will be judged,
        and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
      2. James 4:12 “There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save
        and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?”
      3. Romans 2:1 “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are,
        when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another
        you condemn yourself”
  3. God Alone Judges & God Isn’t The Kind of Judge We Expect!
    1. Our Pharisee hearts like to envision God as a Pharisee Judge
      1. There is something about our fallen nature that clings to judging.
      2. Original sin; wanting to be like God, knowing good & evil/judging.
      3. Maybe this is why we imagine God as landowner in the parable.
    2. All the Gospels (all the Bible) unites to portray God as contrary to that. One commentator, on an entirely different Scripture passage this week, put it like this:
      [GOD] offers anyone and everyone the present opportunity
       to “behold the signs of the in-breaking Kingdom of God,” and through this,
      to understand the true nature and character of God. As a result of this, Jesus offers us a free yet urgent invitation to respond by turning away from our misguided ideas about who God is & what God wants & to follow him.”  It is our misguided notions of who God is and what God is like that wreaks havoc on the world. A hypocrite, in Luke’s understanding, is not a “fake.” A hypocrite is a person who orders their life around a false idea of who God is. This is why the Pharisees don’t repent.(1)
    3. God is love & judges from love, not law-keeping. We misunderstand.
      1. We misunderstand. We can’t judge with out pride & gatekeeping.
      2. Jesus says in Matt 9:13: Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.
      3. And the Prophet Micah: He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
            and what does the Lord require of you
        but to do justice, and to love kindness,
            and to walk humbly with your God?
  4. God As The Gardener, Not The Land-Owner
    1. What if God is the Gardener in the parable, and not the land-owner? Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees in the crowd & describing himself.
    2. We’re fruitless & deserve to be chopped down but Jesus intercedes.
    3. If we continue in fruitlessness, judgment comes, but God tends us all.
  5. We Are Liberated From Law-keeping, So Just Stop Judging
    1. Let’s not make Lent just a new way to be law-keeping Pharisee Judges.
    2. Let’s repent of law-keeping judgmentalism & turn to Christ’s leading.
    3. Our pilgrimage follows that crimson thread of grace through Easter.
    4. And that’s the Good News: Jesus loves you enough to “dung” you.
      Remember that Jesus is the embodiment of God, so God loves you.
      Jesus is the Gardener and Jesus is going tend you to fruitfulness.
      Not all fig trees are planted in good soil or grow in a good climate.
      God didn’t come to cut us down, but to dig around our roots and fertilize us and water us and tend us into fruitfulness that leads to life!

(1) Walt, J.D., “Is Your House On Fire?”, The Seedbed Daily Text, March 23, 2019 (Luke 12:49-59)


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