Friday, March 30, 2007


Romans 11:11-24

In conventional horticulture, the usual practice is to insert a shoot from a cultivated tree into a wild one in order to produce a fruitful tree. Strangely in the passage Paul seems to have gotten his horticulture all wrong! He talks about grafting wild shoots into a cultivated olive tree! How foolish! How sacrilegious! How devoid of knowledge!

But wait! Verse 24 shows us that Paul was conscious of his “mistake” after all! He states that such a procedure is “contrary to nature”. In fact, the unnaturalness of it all is precisely the point. God is able to produce fruit out of things that would normally bear none.

This is the mystery of salvation: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Wild, uncultivated branches such as us have been grafted into a tree with strong roots, the Tree of Christ.

But the best has yet to come. The rejection of Christ by most of Israel has led to us being brought into God’s most beautiful work of art. Imagine the magnificence of the Painting when Israel comes back into the picture!

But we must not be complacent. Just like in the analogy of the vine Jesus used, (John 15) those who think that they can get away with living a selfish life without surrender to God will lose out in the end when the gardener cuts off the branches that bear no fruit. I don’t want to speculate on what that means, as I believe it’s nobody’s business (except God’s) who gets rewarded or punished and what exactly it entails. Nevertheless it’s a warning to all of us – we cannot just continue to live exactly like the rest of the world.

Have we really thought about how blessed we are to be able to share in God’s kingdom? Are we really making an effort to live out our lives in a radical Christ-centered way, or are we just going with the flow, getting caught up with the attractions of this world? How can this divide between what we do and what we should do be narrowed and closed?

Pen down any thoughts that have been provoked by the questions above. Read through them once you’ve finished, and write a “letter” to God (the length is up to you) about what you’ve jotted down.

Suggested Further Reading:
Ronald J. Sider’s “The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience”. The book explores the important question, “Why are Christians living just like the rest of the world?”

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