The world is falling apart. It got the memo, but didn’t read it.
Construction crews have a gift for shutting down the roads I use most, and then finding my detours and ripping them up as well. During the aggravating six month projects, I have no idea what is going on or why. The orange cones, stripped asphalt, iron plates, and detours make no sense to me because I’m not on any municipal planning committees.
With similar frustration, we’re all looking at things going on right now, like school shootings, international escalations, and vulgar political drama, wondering why the mess, and what it might mean.
First of all, God isn’t aimless. He has a grand redemptive agenda. It’s big, and it’s here. Paul describes it in Romans 11 as an olive tree—Israel—not the geopolitical, racial, cultural entity we all think about, but “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), the spiritual reality of His people throughout the ages.
This tree is the only thing on earth that thrives. God relentlessly tends to it as His “cultivated olive tree” (Rom. 11:24), composed of the people He has called into the fellowship of His Son, and who are now alive with the sap of His Holy Spirit. This is what He is doing all day, every day, and He delights in this holy work with a fixation born of both love and purpose.
Conversely, everything outside this tree deteriorates at multiple levels. There seems to be no end of new horrors emerging, no limit to the rejection of boundaries. In honest moments, the world itself has begun to wonder where the bottom is. Maybe it doesn’t want to know. But that is why God grafts into this tree as many new branches as possible.
His winsome encouragements to embrace the gospel of Jesus occur daily.
Today is the day!
We are dull to His urgency, instead assuring each other that we can reach utopia with stronger legislation, more self-esteem, more personal autonomy, more acceptance, more tolerance, more advocacy. Yet these things, without the benevolent supervision of our Creator and Redeemer, are husks, solutions in our own image. Without Him, even love becomes blind sentimentality, a smokescreen for self-fulfillment.
Outside the olive tree, our causes rise with a bang and then fall with a whimper when they fail to interest us any further. Emotional outrage makes poor fuel.
Meanwhile, a lone shape flourishes amidst the waste—an olive tree. Its solitary Attendant hovers about each limb, each bud. He misses nothing. His care is perfect.
Every day He beckons the people surrounding Him who are trying to make it without Him, who are looking for purpose and joy in towers of rubbish.
Come to me!
Look to me!
With arms folded they say in response, “Evangelicals are such simpletons.” “The church has failed.” “Science is my savior.”
But God keeps inviting, because He knows what could happen to them in His tree.
Oh, the glory…
(To be continued)