Monday, March 30, 2009

Bible Verses that Baffle

The emergency back up preacher delivered a sernon on Jesus as "The VIne". Sure enough, he took it too far and asked what Jesus meant when he talked about bearing "fruit". As I see it, the point is that we as branches bear fruit, i.e. have value and efficacy, only when we are attached to the vine. There's no need to inquire about what kind of fruit and whether it's tart or sweet.

What the preacher didn't talk about from the Biblical passage where Jesus likened himself to the vine was the part where Jesus promised that if we abide in him we can ask for anything and get it. I've never heard a plausible explanation about what this is supposed to mean. It seems pretty straightforward. Abide in Jesus, ask for anything you want, and you'll get it. Also, there are a number of verses where Jesus says very similar things about how anything is possible with faith and about how God, who loves us more than any earthly father, will give us anything we want. Finally, Jesus promises that whosoever lives and believes in him will never die.

I struggle with these promises. If the explanation is that abiding in Jesus means that we want only what God wills, ie whatever in fact happens, then why didn't Jesus just say that? Maybe nobody has had enough faith to cheat death or move mountains. Maybe we just aren't abiding hard enough to get our wishes fulfilled.

Can the faithful alter reality itself if their faith is strong enough?

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