Quest for Hope
Religious Blindness 3-15-16
Yesterday, we read about how the Spirit seals us in Truth, so we can come to God on his terms. It is the work of the Spirit who helps us recognize and apply the Truth of how God intends for us to live. Today, we will read a passage from Luke about repentance. I recently taught on this very passage and look forward to revisiting it. Repentance is paramount to understanding the need for the crucifixion, as well as the power out-flowing the resurrection.
Luke 13:1-9 (NLT) A Call to Repentance
13 About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. 2 “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? 3 Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. 4 And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? 5 No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”
Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
6 Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. 7 Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’
8 “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. 9 If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”
Recently, I significantly strained my neck and I have been seeing a doctor. He is a devout Christ-follower. I had an appointment with him, yesterday. During the appointment, he said, “Pastor Mary, what did you preach on Sunday?” I shared with him the highlights of the sermon and how that was meaningful in my life. Then, he turned to ask me a very serious question, “Pastor Mary, I go to a church where there is a great emphasis on praying the prayer of salvation. Actually, all it takes is the prayer and ‘once saved…always saved.’” He got very serious and shared some concerns he had about the mindset of many Christians regarding their salvation; there is a religious blindness to the real purpose of salvation. In our passage for today, we should be able to recognize that Jesus is concerned about this religious blindness, as well.
God’s grace is so precious and so extravagant it really can be very tempting to embrace the attitude that God expects nothing from us in exchange. It is true that Grace is free and we have done nothing to deserve it; however, grace is not cheap and it came at a very great cost. God gave his Son for us so we could become his children. God’s grace is provided so we have the proper incentive, image, and power to live as his children; in other words we can begin to look like Jesus. By incentive, I am talking about why we live the way we do. Our motive to live as Christ’s followers saved by grace, should be based on the repentance of our sinful physical lives in exchange for his pure spiritual life (salvation) WITH the purpose of revealing the Kingdom-life on earth in practical ways. This motive of repentance leads to a transformation in our image as human beings; we should become focused on gaining oneness with our Maker of Love. Grace causes us to become Love-driven fruit-bearers; we live by the energy and power of the Spirit to touch lives for him. Fruit is the by-product of living in agreement with the Spirit. If we are working with the Spirit to produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control we are bringing forth the fruit in keeping with ongoing repentance and transformation.
We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Christ was one God-man and he touched many lives with his love and fruit-bearing. We are to be made in Christ’s image. If every grace recipient embraces the same incentive, image, and power to be humans filled with God; then, God’s Kingdom will radiate like a beautiful gem in this world drawing all humans to Jesus—our Savior and role model.
In our passage today, Jesus connects the happenings of every day life and applies them in a productive way to repentance and the Kingdom of God. As followers of Christ we need to grow in our ability to do likewise. There is a difference between being religious and being Spiritually alive. We can look one way on Sunday morning, but we are to look like Jesus every day.
- Spiritual people in God’s Kingdom garden are to produce righteous fruit, not just take up space.
- God will not tolerate fruitlessness indefinitely; he will act.
- Grace, mercy, and patience are extended, for a season, to those who do not bear fruit; he will give special attention and then take action.
- When we bear fruit we further God’s Kingdom in this world.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you have provided all I need to become like Jesus by the grace you have extended. My selfish will must be crucified daily in order to radiate the fruit of your righteousness. I am resurrected from dead-living into grace-living by the faith I place in your love for me. Holy Spirit, please keep working in my life to bring the right incentive, image, and power to look more like Jesus everyday. In Jesus’ name. Amen.