Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Basket of Apples

Churches are like a basket of apples; some are very good, but others so bad that they cannot be eaten. When all the apples are sound the basket of apples is sweet. When one apple goes rotten it has to be removed and the apples around it need to be washed. When several apples begin to rot, they need to be thrown out, and all the apples in the basket need to be cleansed. But that is as far as the parable goes. Unlike apples, people in churches have freedom to choose. Sometimes they choose to honour the rotten apples. Are there rotten apples in all churches? Yes, of course there are. The church is like that proverbial field of the wheat and the tares.

Bonhoeffer said, “The old world cannot take pleasure in the Church because the Church speaks of its end as though it had already happened--as though the world had already been judged.  The old world does not like being regarded as dead.  The Church has never been surprised at this, nor is it surprised by the fact that again and again men come to it who think the thoughts of the old world--and who is there entirely free from them?  But the Church is naturally in tumult when these children of the world that has passed away lay claim to the Church, to the new, for themselves.  They want the new and only know the old.  And thus they deny Christ the Lord” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall, translated by John C. Fletcher.  (New York: Macmillan, 1959), 11].

The Church is in the redemption business and we should be glad that the children of the world come to the Church; after all “such were some of you.” But care needs to be taken to speak the truth in love to the tares that are in the church, rather follow them. Christians are like salt and are meant to flavor the world, but if Christians lose their saltiness and fail to speak loving words of truth to the grumblers and murmurers in their midst, soon the whole basket of apples will only be fit to be thrown out. In one church there was a row of rotten apples that all sat together in one pew. That is why one morning the minister of music began to sing, “When the row is called up yonder, I’ll be glad.”

“And the LORD said to me, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" I said, "Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten” [Jeremiah 24:3.

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