"A Poor Substitute"
December 1, 2013
(Jesus said) "I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth." John 17:15-17
Years ago I heard about a farmer who decided to cut down the homestead's old, unproducing fruit tree.
That piece of news caused concern to the man's son who had, in that tree, found a wonderful and secret spot to be a boy. In that tree, the lad could dream dreams and imagine the impossible. He could captain a steamship up the Amazon, escape marauding man-eating lions in the Congo, and be master of all he surveyed. But, what could the little boy do? If he talked to his father, his secret spot would no longer be a secret. If he left things as they were, he would be without a secret spot to keep secret.
Then came a revelation: a wondrous solution.
That night the lad snuck out, visited the neighbors' yards, and filled up a bushel basket of apples. These he patiently tied on the limbs of the farm's unproducing fruit tree. The next day, dad went out to do his chores. Upon his return, he commented to his wife and son, "Family, you may find this hard to believe, but our farm has become the site of a miracle. The tree is full of apples."
The boy's mother smiled and said, "That's nice dear ... and you find that remarkable?"
"I do," said dad. "Remarkable because those apples weren't there yesterday. Doubly remarkable, because that's not an apple tree. It's a pear tree."
Now I'm not going to comment how the boy got out of that one; nor am I going to say whether the tree was cut down or remained standing. The end of the story I leave to your own imaginings.
What I will do is point out that every time one of us humans, like the boy in the story, tries to substitute our ideas for God's wisdom we fail. Every time humankind tries to correct what it wrongly feels are the errors in God's Word, we end up substituting a weak -- and wrong -- story of our own.
In the Garden of Eden, Satan convinced Adam and Eve that God had told them a cleverly invented story when He had said they should not eat from the forbidden tree. They believed Satan's cleverly invented story. That mistake brought sin, along with death and damnation, into this world.
When Moses was up on Sinai receiving God's Commandments, deceivers told the children of Israel a cleverly invented story and God's people fell into idolatry. Many died because of that deception. My friends, read the Old Testament. It is filled with one account after another where people rejected God's truth and believed some preposterous and cleverly invented story.
It is no different today.
This is why God's people need to rely on God's inspired Word. There we hear of our sin and His forgiveness; we read of our transgression and His redemption. There we see how God gave His Son as a sacrifice to rescue us from sin, death, devil and our own foolish pride.
Trusting God is not just the wise thing to do, it is the right thing to do too.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the world keeps telling us that faith in You is foolish. Help us see the things in which they trust are always second rate, often silly, and inevitably wrong. Grant us the faith to cling to Your Word which is saving truth. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries