by Glen Edward Quiring
One day Jesus was walking through Jerusalem when he became hungry. Seeing a fig tree close by Jesus went to it. Our storyteller (Mark) now tells us that the tree had no fruit. He further goes on to tell us that it wasn't the season for figs. Jesus, nevertheless, looks at the tree and subsequently curses it, presumably because it could not satisfy his hunger.
Why curse a perfectly good tree?
This snippet, like so many others in the gospels, is a small scene in the life of Christ that we might easily ignore. Have you sat watching a movie and wondered why a particular scene occurs in the story? Did the scene show us the formation of a character? Did it give us hints about what might happen? This snippet in Mark is like that.
We may surmise that God is simply moving beyond Israel, toward the establishment of a new religion. It is tempting to see in this snippet God dispensing with the Old (Israel as the fig tree) and ushering in a new means of being good, a new way of connecting to the Divine. We further might be tempted to suggest that this new religion is one in which all others must believe in or give ascent to. If we were to infer this, we would be suggesting that the Divine simply wanted a better religion - that is, a new social reality with different membership fees.
But this isn't another simple attempt to design a new religion.
By turning away from the tree, Jesus is pointing toward himself. Jesus, being God himself, puts himself center stage as the prime example of God's new thing. God himself is journeying with humanity. He is expressing God's deep affinity to be present with creation. This is what the entirety of the New Testament points. Jesus' life and resurrection points to this life. We might call it a deeply charismatic community. One in which the spirit of God lives and breathes in us and with us.
Can you Imagine your faith community as one that journeys with the Divine? So often, the church often stands on the strength of judgement -- it's us against the world! It is our way or the highway! The narrative of the gospels, however, suggests that the church is something much different. It is a charismatic community. That is, it is one that operates within the life of God -- it is a community that lives as a spirit filled community - God with us.
Do you yearn for religion? Or do you yearn to live free from religion? If so, look past your own concepts of goodness and rightness. Look simply to the life of Christ who brings Divine presence right into your own journey.
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