The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

“I am the vine:” bearing fruit in a brutal world

with 3 comments

Urban poverty is common in developing countrie...
Image via Wikipedia

Tomorrow’s gospel reading is from Jesus’ “I am the vine, you are the branches” lesson.  It’s a beauty, about which we evangelicals can easily be moved to misty-eyed marveling.

But read along as Lawrence Moore begins his analysis at Disclosing New Worlds:

Vines, branches, fruit and pruning – and “abiding”.  This is one of those “purple passages” from John’s gospel that most of us know well.  It’s a time to expound parables of grafting, pruning, getting rid of excess foliage so the grapes are plentiful and fat, about feasting and celebration … and stuff about “abiding” that hovers constantly on the edge of twee and a bit precious.

Any tendency towards twee and precious should cause us to pause.  This world is a brutal, death-dealing place.  Most inhabitants of this planet live below the breadline.  The scale of global poverty is staggering; the magnitude of starvation is terrifyingly obscene.

What makes the statistics significant is not simply the scale.  The scale is tragic.  Yet if it was inevitable and unpreventable, that is all we could call it.  It is the fact that it is preventable that is significant.  The world has never been globally richer, nor has it ever produced more food.

Global poverty is not an accident but a deliberate human creation.  It is deliberate, not in the sense that we set out to cause starvation, but in that we build a global economy that gives those of us in the west a particular standard of living so that two thirds of the planet necessarily live in abject poverty.

Some tools utilized for pruning.

Image via Wikipedia

And “we” – the people with the power and decision-making ability – reckon that is an acceptable cost.  That is what makes the global statistics so obscene.

We in the West hold most of the world’s power.  We in the West hold most of the world’s money.  We could end starvation in a year.  We choose to try to get more power and money instead.

We’re busy fussing over government power or gay marriage or how we’d rather give through our churches.  And year after year, people die in droves.  Who is responsible for this holocaust?

If I were God, I’m afraid I’d begin pruning.  Maybe some other “branch,” if entrusted with the world’s riches and power, would get serious about bearing fruit.

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3 Responses

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  1. Hey Monte! Thank you again for the sermon! And again, I didn’t like it!!! I appreciated your prayer for God to make us uncomfortable….and it is definitely working. I have thought about this issue a lot since Sunday. I have had some trying times this past year, including most recently the loss of my husband’s job, requiring us to move away, and also resulting in a forclosure on our home. Yet, even though it would seem that I have lost much~do not have much, this information and other information like this have made it clear to me that I do actually have more than most. I have checked out the website that you & I discussed and I am challenged to be able to help someone with a loan soon. Thanks for helping me to see my life more clearly, as Christ does….so that I may ‘change my perspective!’
    Janie Roberts

    Janie Roberts

    May 13, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    • Janie – you’re certainly welcome, and thank you for the thoughtful response.

      I am so sorry to learn that you and your husband lost a job and a home! Did you have to move far?


      May 14, 2009 at 9:06 am

    • Hello Monte! We have moved to Ames, Iowa. After losing his job at Thanksgiving, my husband looked for jobs in Muscatine and the surrounding area. After no success, we decided that he should go for the job in Ames. We are blessed that he got the job and we moved February 1st. Unfortunately, all these events led to the house being forclosed on in Muscatine. I have given this house-stuff all up to God, and I pray that His will be done daily….AND my prayers are being answered. We got an offer on our house, contingent on the sale of the buyer’s house. They got their house listed last week and they received an offer on it Friday! Now we are playing a waiting-game with the lender, OCWEN-in Florida, to see if they will approve the deal and help us with a short sale. I know that He has a plan and that this will all work out.
      God is good. I am in a college town, the timing is right with my kids all finally being in school, and I have applied to go back to get my teaching degree. I am very excited about the opportunity.
      The kids are happy here, in fact they transitioned BEAUTIFULLY! Mark is happy in his job, and I am making new friends. We are all fairly healthy and we have food, clothing, and shelter… you pointed out…..MORE THAN MOST!!
      I am grateful for what we have!
      And I am very grateful when I get to visit my dear friend Sharon and we come to your church!! THank you!
      Hopefully, I’ll be able to visit again soon; and like I said I feel challenged to help someone with a KIVA loan as soon as I can.
      God bless,
      Janie Roberts

      Janie Roberts

      May 18, 2009 at 5:27 pm

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