A God I Can Believe In
Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:24-30; 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8
Four different varieties of grapes were planted in two vineyards. Three of them did very well and will produce some good fruit. The smaller vineyard should have gone dormant like its cousins to the east, but when the first frost arrived early, the vines still had green leaves and the frost hit hard. This year many of those plants are toast.
Imagine walking through that vineyard discussing how to move and transplant the remaining healthy vines. Think about which ones to keep and which ones to pull out performing a kind of triage as God might do when surveying this lonely planet. God walks up and down the rows inspecting each vine. God looks at a vine full of racial hatred and it is pulled out and thrown on the ground for later burning. God looks at a vine that lived a life of fear accumulating great things but never sharing. That one too is pulled out. Next God finds a healthy stretch of vines all intertwined, with lots of young grapes on them. Those people were in a community. They depended on one another. They helped all kinds of people. They will bear much fruit this year.
Like the gospel says, the parts we prune and the plants we dig up all go on the burn pile. The process of judging, pruning and uprooting goes on and on in God's own time. We have no control over that process nor should we be part of the divine judging, pruning and burning operation. At best we are followers. We are not god.
While the metaphor is lovely and clear, the events of this week have left me reeling and saddened. As darkness swept over me I wondered at times just what kind of god I believe in and what kind of gods I can no longer trust.
Let's get one thing straight. Two wrongs do not make a right. Violence is never the answer and we cannot condone it. But when violence erupts we need to listen to those whose pleas for help have gone ignored. In a 1968 speech to the most privileg ...
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