Preaching on passages known for judgment during their integrative history is difficult. For some reason, we are overly attached to this notion of God as axe-wielder, ready to chop down the useless and pointless with divine gardening wrath. We want God to get rid of all that doesn’t measure up.
Having said that, trying to preach a gospel of grace away from the law without a call to action is stagnate. It becomes nice to hear, but fetid. It doesn’t move or breathe or grow. Gospel without action isn’t good news. How often do I want to be left alone without needing to do anything at all? It’s like being awakened in the morning but refusing to get out of bed for the day.
I can’t help but wonder if that’s really God, or rather is it me desiring to eradicate all that doesn’t fit in to my own perfection? What if the landowner in this parable is really all that it means to be human in our darkest moments? Rather than making Jesus’ words softer, it makes them more terrifying.
Why can’t Jesus leave me alone? Why add more shit to my roots? Just because I’m not producing fruit, doesn’t mean I’m useless. I do produce oxygen, after all (although I highly doubt the writers of the gospels would have realised that), I prevent erosion, provide shade, contribute to the local ecosystem. I’m far from unproductive or useless.
Whether the judgment is divine or human, it ceases to matter to me. Both sound like the end result is the same: death. The reality then becomes that the only way to life is for Jesus to add poop.
In this way, Jesus is the original and purest shit-disturber in history.