Thursday, September 24, 2020
We bear fruits
unless the stress of life puts us down,
like this once beautiful birch.
For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace.
Each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
Words of Grace For Today
The good person … produces good and the evil person … produces evil.
Forest Gump quotes his mother: “Stupid is as stupid does.”
We like to paint the world in black and white, good and bad, yes or no. Binary absolute polarized categories are simpler to describe, identify, and judge. Polarized thinking is dangerous, and destructive to others and ourselves.
Christ calls us to a different view: He ate with sinners and tax collectors, welcoming in the women of ill-repute, the lame, the outcast, and even lepers.
Martin Luther clarified for us the view of humanity that Jesus calls us to embrace: that before God (in the ultimate judgment of us) we are all sinners, always, forever.
Only through Grace does Jesus step in and give us his impeccable record, not only before God, but also as the record we can live with as our past as we move into the future! Thus we are God-made saints.
Sinners we remain, God makes us saints, and it’s not sometimes one and then other times the other. We are simultaneously both saints and sinners. That goes for every last one of us! No exceptions for good or bad behaviour.
Pen-ultimately (of a 2nd order of significance) we know that how we live our lives effect others who live now on this earth and those who follow us. In other people’s eyes we can be seen to do good things, and be judged as a good person, OR to be seen to do bad things, and be judge as a bad person.
These orders of significance, the ultimate judgment of God, and the penultimate judgment of history about our lives, are not ours to make. There are other lower orders of significance where we may be able to judge ourselves as going good and being good, or as doing bad and being bad. They are the level at which we can understand Luke wrote about people being like trees: we produce the fruit that is of the kind we are. This image breaks when we realize that God made us all ready, able, and eager to only do good; yet we broke from the kind of people (‘trees’) that God made us to be, we sinned, and we have done evil things.
Jeremiah writes how everyone (but not Jeremiah or God’s faithful few) is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely.
Sometimes it seems that everyone else has become evil. In a world economy that is based on greed it is difficult to see anyone conduct business not based on greed. Laws are written to ensure that CEO’s conduct business as greedily as possible for the shareholders.
In this messed up world, it is easy to see and to say that everyone has become greedy, taking from others what is not ours to take.
Stupid is as stupid does and everyone does stupid. There is no evil that is not stupid, yet not all evil is stupid. (Some stupid is not evil, it’s just stupid.) So perhaps better said: stupid evil is as stupid evil does, and everyone does stupid evil.
Saints are a miracle. Only by God’s Grace is anyone able to be seen as a saint, in spite of their stupid doings.
Only the paradox that Luther provides covers it: we are all simultaneously saints and sinners. God creates us Good. We all choose to be stupid by our (fallen) nature, and only by Grace are we ever made wise.
Thanks be to God for saints, like us. And Grace be to those terrible sinners, like us.