1 ‘Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
There can be no doubting the invitation from God to draw near to be refreshed, to discover life in all it’s fullness, in other words a life which is physically, emotionally and spiritually fulfilling.
The theologian Jenny Williams said this about this passage:
“Jesus clearly says that God’s intention is always for people to grow. However it is not for us to judge other people, as we understand very little about what happens in life. Our capacity for judgment is to turn inwards and reflect on ourselves.”
Judgement is all too often thought of as only about being judgemental, a purely negative characteristic. Jesus was clear that we should not judge, lest we be judged. Yet it seems that the Bible points us to a good judgement by turning to God and examining oursleves. The Bible calls this repentance.
In this passage from Luke, Jesus directs his listener’s attention away from judging others back to their own need to repent. The parable which follows, teaches that what matters most is that the focus be on inward growth (which then goes on to produce outward fruit) rather than on judging that which is external.
It’s all too easy to avoid the issues we need to address by deflecting the conversation onto someone else who appears to be worse than ourselves – avoidance. Indeed we can too easily project our own shortcomings onto the other person – projection. Better always to gaze within and use the gift of repentance and judgement to turn to God and let him judge (and cleanse and purify) our own hearts.
The parable teaches us that God alone has the right to judge whether or not the Vineyard (Israel) remains or is dug up. The Gardener (Christ) intervenes and promises to fertilise and expects fruit to come. The Vineyard is given a second chance and this time the Good Gardener is at work. As Paul writes to the Philippians, He who has began a good work in us will bring it to completion.
Through Christ’s incarnation in us, it is by prayer and listening to the Word which is the ‘fertiliser’ he uses. God is speaking in the depth of our heart. When we spend time listening to that inner voice of Love, our souls are fed and the proper fruit will appear, not instantaneously but in time.
As Henri Nouwen said,
“Only by attending constantly to the inner voice can you be converted to a new life of freedom and joy”.
God, in Christ, and by your Spirit,
You dwell in the depths of our being.
Help us to turn to you again and again, to know your Voice, to hear you speak and to live out of that place of eternal love.