Remember this post? Probably not. I paused very briefly to ponder the fig tree in Mark.
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. – Mark 11:12-14
That fig tree still crops up on the odd occasion. It’s one of those weird moments/posts that I can recall quite well. Who knows – there could be something in that?
Anyway, I was ploughing my way through Mike Frost’s Eyes Wide Open and bam! There’s that fig again.
Frost’s argument was exploring the avenue of creativity and the creativity of the kingdom. Let me share some context,
” It seems that Jesus was able to demonstrate the power of God’s kingdom and at the same time to endorse such creative forces as community spirit, laughter, love and celebration. The kingdom is ushered in alright, but not at the expense of these things. Today we might leave the party when it gets out of hand, sit smugly in the corner or never show up in the first place. Jesus attends, enters fully into it and still brings the creativity of the kingdom to bear on it.
But this isn’t the impression that Jesus just let life wash over him, attending every party, eating with every sinner and being entirely undiscerning about his conduct. There were times when he was unprepared to put up with situations that he saw as entirely uncreative.”
Before you stall on the word ‘creative’ read this,
“His cursing of the barren fig tree in Mark 11:12-14 and 20-21 is a case in point. The fig trees’ ‘crime’ was that it was not producing fruit – for Jesus a dreadful waste. The analogy is often drawn between the tree and Israel, who was also in a state of barrenness at the time. There seems to be one thing Jesus wont tolerate and that’s a refusal to bear fruit. An unproductive tree, a fruitless nation, a destructive religious system all incurred his wrath…”
There is a lot more to chapter including some interesting stuff on the part-parallel to creativity of, ‘halting destructive behavior’ – in the turning over of the temple tables, but I can’t possibly dare to do that justice just now.
To be really honest, I sat down tonight to write blog post on a later part of Frost’s book and somehow lost my inspiration and came back to what seemed like an ‘easier thought’. (I fold the bottom corners of books where things are interesting). And now here I am and it’s a little bit confronting.
Driving home tonight I did manage to fit a bit of thinking in. I haven’t done much thinking lately. I haven’t done too much praying. I haven’t really touched my Bible much.
Every now and then I take a good hard look at who I am. I think I used to be fairly obsessive about it. No doubt it did me a world of good and screwed with my head at the same time.
I don’t know if I can count my life as being very fruitful at the moment. It’s not particularly destructive or chaotic, just apathetic. And as Relient K used to say (and potentially still do), “Apathetic is a pathetic way to be”.
You can’t just stop putting effort into things. Chase that fig further, fruit that sits around… erm, rots. It might be stretching the analogy, but there’s a bit of truth there.
I could do with putting a little of that old obsession back into looking at what’s actually going on and start living a bit closer in response to God’s grace and the person of Jesus.
I could also travel backwards to my literal ‘passing thought‘ and start analysing that it says that it wasn’t the season for the fig tree but that might increase the ladder of excuse, I certainly don’t need that.
Where’s the fruit?