Sunday, July 5, 2015

PULLING WEEDS--by Linden Malki

"I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore..." Before telling his disciples what they were to do, He established the point that He was acting on the authority of God the Father. And of course, He was also establishing the concept that God Himself is the ultimate authority in the Universe.

And of course, we human beings, being self-centered and willful creatures, have had a problem with this ever since a talking snake pointed out to Eve (and Adam, who was right there with her) that she could act against the one specific prohibition that God had given them. Too many of us have figured this out too; that we can do things that are not "in the book" but we are physically able to do them. Doesn't mean that we should do them, that it's a good idea, just that we can do them. We are usually defying some sort of authority when we do them, and they usually do not work out well. My favorite definition of "repentance" is that it does not mean that we regret the unsatisfactory result, but that we recognize that God has the legitimate authority to judge.

This is the first step in following Jesus: acknowleging that God does have the authority to require obedience; that He really does have our best interests at heart. The next step is recognizing that Jesus not only has the authority of God to deal with us, but that He, and God, do this out of love for us. He created us to have a loving relationship with us, but it has to be with the understanding that as our Creator, this relationship has to be on His turf. Nothing that is not compatible with His authority can exist in His presence, now or in eternity.

It's easy to get this backwards. We want to do it ourselves; to have the pride of cleaning up our acts ourselves. The problem is that we can't do it right. If we try to control the disobedience ourselves, we're trying to do this with the same strength and doggedness that led us into the disobedience in the first place. Even if we apparently succeed, the reasons we got off track are still there, and can still trip us up. Not to mention that we are usually unpleasantly self-righteous and judgmental, often being hypocritical about the whole thing.

When I lived in Devore, every spring and summer was a fight against weeds. We could cut them down, but they just sprang back with the next rain. One year I decided to really get them out--got up an hour early every morning for most of the spring and pulled them out by the roots where I could. I couldn't do it all myself, but the area I did around the house didn't grow back as fast. But living in a world of weeds, they came back the next year.

We have to give up--to let Jesus pull the weeds out of our lives--and keep watch over the seeds as they try to come back. He is the ultimate Gardener--better than mowers, or hoes, or tractors, or Roundup. Before we have the permission or authority to say anything to anybody else, we need a story to share that does not brag about ourselves, but that gives credit where it is truly due and truly available.

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