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Rockwater Reader

reflections from a new creation

I’ve said that my title is ‘Grief in the Garden of life’. You may be able to guess what the garden of life is. It is of course the fellowship of the saints, the assembly of the righteous – what the New Testament writers call the Ecclesia. It is a garden of life because it is where the Spirit dwells. And where the Spirit dwells there is abundant fruit – this is His work – the Spirit brings forth fruit.

Eden was a place of abundant fruit. The LORD God planted a garden (Genesis 2.8). Out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food (Genesis 2.9). The garden was a garden of life – a garden full of fruit, full of the Spirit of life.

Turning to the New Testament we find that the Garden of Life is Jesus himself.

John 15:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Verse 8:

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

Verse 16:

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain…”

Here we see that Jesus, the True Vine, is the one true Garden of Life. And His disciples are grafted into that Garden of Life. Those who follow Jesus bring forth fruit. The assembly is then, in so far as it abides in Jesus, part of the Garden of Life, the body of Christ – and so is a  place of abundant fruit. It is the dwelling place of the life-giving Spirit.

So then, what are we to make of this combination? On the one hand the people of God will experience suffering and grief but on the other hand they are fruit bearing branches in the Garden of Life.

Part III coming soon.

[Delivered on Valentine’s Day/Transfiguration Sunday 2010]

Funny how…a clock is always ticking in calm tranquil days.

My title today is Grief in the Garden of Life, and by grief I mean suffering, and by suffering I mean that which the apostles did not hesitate to tell us about. I mean that which the apostles themselves were personally familiar with and had experienced in many forms. I mean that which will be the earthly experience of anyone who seeks to follow Jesus the Messiah. It is the sort of suffering that is distinct to the church because it is suffering for the sake of righteousness.

The Scriptures make it abundantly clear – the life of the Messiah’s followers will not be a smooth ride. For, the life of Jesus as he carried through his earthly ministry was a life that freely entered into that distinctive suffering which is “Suffering for the sake of righteousness.” As the apostle Peter teaches us in his first epistle (2.21-23):

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did not sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously”

This is your calling, Peter is saying, to live a blameless life in the midst of provocation and trial knowing that all things will be judged by God who sees all things and will bring all things to light in the day of judgement. And this statement coming from the pen of Peter is all the more exceptional. It was this same apostle who would not hear of Jesus’ talk of suffering, indeed, who denied Christ on three occasions in order to avoid suffering.

Peter had fallen prey to the influence of Satan, and Jesus said that there will be many who will fall prey to his influence and will in life desire the smooth ride. For those who like the smooth ride Jesus has declared to you that there IS one available. It is the broad way and you enter through a wide gate and because the way is broad and the gate is wide MANY people find it and walk it. But that way does not lead to life – Jesus will not be there at the end.  That way leads to destruction.

So the smooth ride ends in disaster, it ENDS in grief, it ENDS in suffering, and that suffering will last for eternity.  What does that tell us? It tells us that suffering is unavoidable. If you follow Christ there be suffering in life for the sake of righteousness, but if you turn from Christ you will certainly suffer in the eternity that awaits you on the other side of the grave. That is the choice.

But believe that there is more also to be said than this….

TBC

[Delivered on Valentine’s Day/Transfiguration Sunday 2010]

The polymath is a man of God who follows the line to the hook every time and gets swallowed up in a new fish every day.

A psalm is a song. To catch the point of a song (the whole point) you need to sing it. To catch the point of things in general you need to experience them according to their design and purpose. I don’t need to sing the obituaries. I do need to taste the food. I don’t need to comb my hair with a toothbrush. I do need to lie down in a hammock. Things are meant for what they were meant for. To sing the obituaries may make for an interesting comment on death and our attitudes to it, and we may even learn something new from the obituary that was latent in its original design, but if we bypass its original design then our view will always be distorted. Things need to be understood on their own terms. 

It’s not enough just to not suck as much as the other side

Glenn Beck