Faith and Figs

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 42; 146, Zephaniah 1:14-18, Revelation 14:14-15:8, Luke 13:1-9


One of the most troubling clichés in Christianity is blaming someone’s misfortune on a lack of faith. Many an action contains the seed of its own consequences, and we want to avoid those tragedies, but catastrophes like illness and natural disasters happen to the faithful, the doubtful, and the indifferent in equal measure. We don’t know the details of why or how the tower of Siloam fell and killed eighteen people, but Jesus – unlike many of today’s televangelists – used the tragedy not to shame the victims, but to point out the need for everyone to repent:

Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.

In other words, don’t put off until tomorrow what could be prevented forever by a falling tower today.

Why are we eager to link tragedy with sin, especially when Jesus said otherwise (see also “it rains on the just and the unjust” in Matthew 5)? Maybe because we want the world to make sense. Maybe because the inverse proposition is that a lack of tragedy assures us we are doing faith “right.” Maybe because we trust the (imaginary) justice in front of us more than God’s eternal justice. Whatever the reason, Jesus tries to redirect our thinking away from externally-directed blame and inward toward repentance.

Jesus follows up with a parable about a vineyard owner with a fig tree that hasn’t produced fruit in three years (perhaps not coincidentally the length of Jesus’s active ministry). He wants to cut it down, but the gardener asks for one more year to tend and fertilize it. We never learn the fate of the tree.

Rather, it bends us toward God regardless of fortune. Like the fig tree we need to develop roots that dig deep and branches that stretch for the light so we can bear fruit through all kinds of weather. We repent joyfully because God loves us enough to offer a future regardless of our past.

Comfort: Whatever the question, faith is the answer.

Challenge: Think about something in your life you wish would change. Is there something you could change within instead?

Prayer: God of possibilities, do with my life as you will. Amen.

Discussion: How do you typically react to problems that are beyond your control?

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7 thoughts on “Faith and Figs

  1. Another great blog. Having. Den a survivor of many medical issues I look at these events as not caused by God. He will use my life events to provide a message behind them. It is up to me to see the other side of the moment. With Gods grace and mercy I do. Thanks for the blog post. A good reminder set for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this post. I used to let others questioning of my because of the trials I was going through make me doubt my faith. I am so glad that you wrote this. I have since learned that trials and tribulation does not mean that my faith is not enough but that my God is greater than the giants that come against me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Divide and Concur | Comfort & Challenge

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