Lenten Devotion for March 21, 2019

Luke 13:1–9 (NRSV)

13 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8 He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ 

This is quite a harsh passage isn’t it? Blood being mingled. Suffering and perishing. Jesus warning that if we don’t repent our fate will be similar. It’s tough to hear those words and not push back against a version of God that isn’t popular right now. Namely we have watered down “love” to mean sweet dreams and snuggles and do whatever you want and it’ll be okay. Unfortunately, this isn’t in the Bible anywhere. 
Is God patient with us? Absolutely so! Does God forgive us and make our lives “white as snow”? Surely. But if we are not careful we end up taking advantage of God’s grace and cheapen it and water down the impact to the point where it is simply a slogan.

Are you and I caught up in cheap grace? Have we forgotten the call to “deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow” and instead substituted the world’s call that we should have comfort, convenience and personal preference above all else?

If so, may we hear Jesus’ call to repent…turn…from our way and to God’s. The Evil One’s greatest ploy in our day is not terroristic acts or gun violence. Those are too easily spotted as evil and universally condemned. No, there is a much more subtle play for our hearts going on.  All it takes is for God’s people to desire above all else comfort, convenience and having it our way and the next thing you know the gospel is muted.  

May we rise up and say daily, “not on our watch!”

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, give me boldness this day to choose your way over my own.