Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Yesterday was a beautiful day.  The temperature was cool without being cold.  The sun played hide and seek with the clouds; and best of all, it all happened on a holiday.  It was a perfect day to commune with the outdoors by attending to our yard and garden.

As I have said many times before, everything in life is a metaphor.  Well, perhaps not everything; but living in a house full of women, you learn to speak in hyperbole.  Of course, that is also a hyperbole because not all women are prone to exaggerate.  The few women I've come to know well over the years have tended in that direction, though.  It's not a criticism; actually, I think it's kind of cute.  In fact, I've come to use the classic "always" statement as a means of making a point; I use bad grammar to the same end.  So I will say it again.  Everything in life is a metaphor.

Our small garden comprises a variety of perennials that bloom at different times over the course of the summer in order to treat the viewer with a ever changing palette of color. You gardeners reading this are likely thinking, Ah, yeah, that's the way it's supposed to work.  You must understand; our garden in particular, and all botanical matters at our house in general are the brain-children of my wife; I'm strictly a brown thumb.  My job is to mow the lawn, trim, and weed the garden.  The challenge for me is differentiating the weeds from the flowers.  My wife has been perplexed her daisies haven't come up this year.  I'm thinking I may had mistook them for weeds.  Some of this mistaken identity is due to my ignorance; but I attribute some of it to the cleverness of the weeds.

As I was surveying the garden yesterday, all seemed nice and tidy.  There were a few small weeds spotting the clear areas, but overall the garden appeared healthy.  Yet on closer inspection, I found some weeds dressed to the nines, standing straight and proud among the flowering plants past bloom, feigning to be part of the gang.  From a distance they were pretty convincing, too; close up, though, their weediness was quite obvious.  Huh, I thought, there's got to be a metaphor in this, somewhere....

And answering, Jesus again spoke in parables to them by saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a ruler of people who prepared a wedding feast for his son.  And the ruler sent away his slaves to call those who have been invited to the wedding, but they didn't want to come.  Again, the ruler sent away other slaves by saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, see, I have prepared my feast, my bulls and the fattened animals have been slaughtered, I prepared everything.  Come into the wedding feast.'  But those ignoring the invitation went away: one to his family farm, and another to his market; but those remaining seized the slaves and assaulted and killed them.  The ruler was furious; and dispatching his soldiers, he killed those murderers and set fire to their city.  Then the ruler said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who have been invited were not worthy.  Therefore, go upon the roads leading out of the city, and invite however many you might find to the wedding feast.  And those slaves took to the roads, and invited everyone they encountered, both the bad and the good.  And the wedding was filled with those reclining at the banquet table.  When the ruler entered the gathering to look at those who were reclining at the table, he saw a person there not dressed in wedding attire.  And the ruler said to the person, 'Comrade, how did you get in here without having wedding clothes?'  The person was dumbstruck.  Then the ruler told the servants, 'After you bind the person's feet and hands, throw the person out into the outer most darkness.'  There, there will be the wailing and the gnashing of teeth.  For many are called, but few are chosen." [Matt. 22:1-14]

No doubt some will cite this passage as a proof text for unconditional election.  I spent a good part of this summer rebutting such an idea, so I won't belabor the point here.  I will say this.  Our hope and security don't rest in God having decided before all eternity how everything in His creation will play out, down to the last motions of each subatomic particle.  No, our hope and security lie solely in the perfect, finished work of Jesus the Christ.

God calls each of us to join Him in His eternal kingdom.  But we must respond, and respond totally on His terms, not our own.  This means we mustn't think we will get in because we're wearing a "I love Jesus" T-shirt; or toting citizenship papers to some nation, ethnic group, or church affiliation; or clutching our advanced degrees from prestigious universities, proving we have mastered the correct theology; or packing our get-out-of-jail-free card.  No, to come to God on His terms is to come clothed in Christ--ensconced in Him as in our skin--by surrendering ourselves completely to His strength and will with an indefatigable trust.  Jesus explains what I mean with graphic imagery:

"Truly, yes truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves.  The one who is gnawing my flesh and drinking my blood has eternal life, and I will resurrect that person on the last day." [John 6:53-54]

Unless we put on Christ in this most intimate and utterly dependent way, we will remain like those weeds in my garden, believing ourselves to be flowers in God's garden, when we are not.  And our fate will be the same as the fate of those weeds: yesterday, I entered our flower bed, pulled those weeds out by their roots, and cast them behind the fence to dry and whither in the hot sun.