This morning I need the bible. To float and bask. To draw life and energy. To restore and heal. And what am I given?
Mark 11:11-26 – the cursed fig tree and overturning the temple tables. Hardly the soothing place I hoped to find myself.
Except for this – a long-term curiosity – that “fig tree” …
Verse 14: “Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.” And verses 20-21: “In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
This little exchange has always puzzled me.
It was not “fig season”. The tree was just being a tree – what more could it be? That tree was a living thing doing what living things do – living peacefully by the side of the road. It was no threat and there was no reason for zapping this tree. And the implications have always been a little sinister for me.
AND I have heard the “we forgive you God” teachings which can be summed up as “Jesus expects us to be ready for Him at all times.”
For what? For more “kingdom work”? And why always “work”? Because in the “inerrant and infallible” bible there is always the real factual tree – always the real factual zapping – and that is always (really) malicious – and is never “love is always the answer”.
But, for me, the bible is no longer “inerrant and infallible”.
And – maybe because of that … ?
Hello verse 11: “Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.”
Since it was already late (there was no one there).
The tree is not “a fig tree” – and the zapping is not a “zapping” – it is just imagery in reinforcement of “the factual”:
The fact is that religion has “seasons” even today (just look at the church diary) – religion NEEDS seasons – a “season” for this and a “season” for that – and a season of “fallow ground” (when nothing much happens) – because that’s what happens “in between seasons” and before the next (church calendar) “season”.
More “kingdom work” is NOT what this is about – NOR the “fulfilling of scripture” – NOR is it about being a Good Christian (or Good Pharisee) …
And I find that healing. I find that restoring. I find that energising.
What do I mean … ?
This bible – this sacred text of many fights and disputes and divisions – this bible needed to be inerrant and infallible by some – this bible needed as a manual for living by others – this bible that is always a “sacred text” …
I now find to be the greatest sandpit I have ever been given.
A place to play … a place to throw sand as hard as I can just because I can … a place of building and rebuilding … a place sometimes of slippery grains and other times of sticky constructions. A place where the only rules are the rules I create (and then blame on the bible for having rules).
This morning the bible no longer has rules. This morning I see me making them up for you and me and you and you (and then breaking them every day). This morning I see you making them up for me and (ditto)
Today I believe there was NO zapping of an actual tree. Today I believe love IS always the answer.
That this One of oneness is inviting love to be my answer always because there is NO “season” for love – that it doesn’t matter where or when or why or how – that love is not a “good deed” – that love is not “faith in action” – that love is not a “commandment” – and that love is not something I can switch on and off – because “love” is not a tradition or ritual or form of church OR calendar OR bible.
The imagery and invitation for me today is this:
“Do you love because you “love” – or because you have made it (another) “kingdom work” rule (to be switched on and off)?”
This morning I needed gentle healing – and it came from a place I would not have expected.