Monday, March 09, 2009
Pure-It-Tree or Orchard or Garden: A Parable
"I've been thinking, Jesus, of trying my hand at parables." So said the follower who thought himself one of the few true apostles and very wise and close to understanding everything Jesus said. Jesus sighed and settled himself on the most comfortable rock around. His hopes were not high.
"The kingdom of God is like a fruit tree," said the would-be parablist. "The only one of its kind, it grows straight and true. It produces one kind of fruit -- uniform in texture, appearance, color, and taste. And it must be pruned hourly lest any unsightly, un-uniform fruit appear."
He smiled at the wisdom of his parable.
Jesus thought for a moment and then asked. "So the kingdom of God is like a fruit tree? Singular."
"Yes," replied the would-be disciple.
"Then how does it produce fruit? Can a solitary tree produce fruit?"
"Hmmm, I hadn't thought of it quite that way before," said the story-teller. "Okay, let me try again. The kingdom of God is like an orchard with only one kind of tree. The trees all grow straight and true and produce one kind of fruit -- uniform in texture, appearance, color and taste. And they must be pruned hourly lest any unsightly, un-uniform fruit appear." He smiled again. Thanks to his deep understanding of what Jesus was getting at, he knew he had come up with a great parable.
"One kind of fruit, eh?" asked Jesus.
"Indeed. All alike in every regard."
"Which fruit is it?"
"Ah, I'm not sure I get your meaning, Jesus. Fruit -- it's just a metaphor."
"That's not what the apostle Paul says. As I recall, my friend Paul said that there were all kinds of fruits of the kingdom -- 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.' "
"And," continued Jesus, "I don't think God created an orchard. As I recall, it was a garden, somewhere over east of Eden. 'And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.' Perhaps your parable needs a bit of work."
The parablist said, "Nope, I think it works pretty well as it is. And I think somebody needs to get work pruning -- I've been discerning some unsightly and un-uniform fruit popping up. Fruit that doesn't suit my taste, I mean the criteria, as I understand it, for what is good fruit and what isn't."
Jesus sighed. Loudly this time. He hauled himself up off the rock and climbed back on the cross.