The question for most of us is not whether we are part of something bigger. I think the question that is becoming increasingly insistent is closer to, “What is it, exactly, that we are part of? I agree with my Rabbi, who says that it does not matter which theory or religious rhetoric one chooses to believe, as long as the root issues are covered. However, I think the difficulty comes in accurately discerning the roots of our belief structures. Again, the first rule of logic is that if one begins at the wrong premise he will end at the wrong conclusion. I keep repeating this because as a Nation we have lost sight of that scientifically known fact. Not too surprising, since we have lost sight of the premise from which most beliefs – both scientific and religious – once originated as well. In our arrogant intellectual pursuits we have become somewhat ignorant of Truth. What constitutes it, what defines it and how this affects our daily world.
But for this writing, I want to focus on the spiritual rather than the purely scientific, though I believe they are truly inseparable, in actuality. So the question again is not, “Are we a part of something bigger than ourselves?”, But, should be, “What exactly are we a part of?”. Meaning, are we a Natural branch of the house of Israel, or grafted-in branch? If grafted-in, then are we grafted into the Original Vine – which is Messiah (which I believe to be Yeshua of Nazarith), or just a Re-potted “Genetically Modified” Cutting off that Vine, being pruned and cut into some other use, form or purpose - by religious tradition? Or if natural, have we allowed ourselves to be severed from the vine and “re-potted” into some other planting – again, by religious tradition? Even perhaps receiving severe limitations, such as the Japanese art of dwarfing the plants to inhibit growth, known as Bonsai – again, by the severe and unnatural restrictions of religious tradition! Now, let me note that when I say “natural” I am referring to G-d's original design for mankind, what was intended to be spiritual “second-nature”, not the seemingly “natural” tendencies of the now sin-infested flesh. Just to be clear in my meaning.
But, truly, these are important things to discern, because it will determine the quality and quantity of our fruit, or what we produce in life. It will determine whether we project a sunny, peaceful atmosphere or a dramatic, cloud covered, stormy one. It will determine whether the things we say and do and think about bring life to others, or disease, dysfunction and eventually death. There is a great deal of controversy right now over the genetically modified foods, and there has always been serious moral questions raised about messing about with the genetic process in general, the stuff of which horror movies are made!
Some things are so genetically altered that they can not reproduce without an unnatural interference from man. The things that G-d made will reproduce naturally, if the given prerequisites are met. Spiritually I have seen the same thing. As those who follow me now realize my “problems with Church” do not stem from the Scriptural concept of it, but from the overly institutionalized,
manufactured, religious, “GMO”, largely lifeless, fruitless disaster that it has become. My own stilted, irregular, hard-won “progression” producing most of the questions which I have posed! Questions such as, “Why has it taken so long? Why am I not producing more spiritual fruit? Where is the function and maturity that I should have exhibited long ago, according to what is indicated by those who seem to know?”..and so on. I have continuously asked these questions because in applying the standard of righteousness one is responsible to apply it to oneself first and foremost! As Yeshua indicated by His teaching on the “beam” in our eyes versus the “speck” in the eye of someone else. We each seem to have a blindness to our own areas of spiritual darkness, but also a tendency to notice every tiny bit of spiritual darkness in others! Especially, if we have obtained a bit of light ourselves. So I have tried to guard against that by asking the hard questions of myself first. What's fair for one is fair for all in most cases.
But back to the original discussion. Do we really know if we are grafted-in to the Vine? How do we know? The answer is startlingly simply and disturbingly enlightening. Does our fruit resemble His? Are we overcoming sin in our daily lives and helping others to do so? Or are we like the proverbial fig bush, we look good, but there is no real life anywhere? I think it is time we begin to look carefully at the pots in which we have allowed ourselves to be planted. We are not supposed to get “potted”. We are supposed to grow out of the Vine, in the light of His love and truth! Potted plants are too quickly root bound, too easily kept out of the light, too easily limited in their growth, too dependent on human care, which is fallible for its watering and nourishment! And, as I read, I do not pick up on any middle-men. There are gardeners, shepherds, that are supposed to be the hands and feet of G-d's Spirit, bearing His tools, bringing His nourishment, at times even doing His pruning. But they are to work in tandem with Him, not independently from Him. They are to use His principles, and stay within His boundaries for His garden, and not turn His vine into little bonsai! Separated from the vine and each other, dwarfed and gnarled, though pretty and considered to be an art form to enjoy. How man loves to play at being G-d! How mankind loves to manipulate His creation and bring it down to their puny level of control!
When will we humble ourselves enough to admit that G-d know what He is doing! That He knows more than we can ever learn? When will we just realize that the best place for us to be is connected to Him in a vital way? When will we humble ourselves to let Him graft us into the Vine, which is Yeshua the Messiah, and let the light and water of His Torah shine and rain down on us, nourishing us from His rich roots of Hebrew heritage? Of course we do not want to fall into the legalism that plagued the original “Pharisee”, but just because we the text has been changed it does not mean that we have not been deceived into the same pit! Post modern pharisaic tendencies are no more spiritual productive than the ancient ones, in fact, I suspect they are double-trouble! At least their legalistic structures originated in Torah, and not in heathen idolatry!
Whether we choose to believe it or not there is a G-d. Whether we choose to believe Him or not, He set standards for us to follow in the Torah. Whether we get hold of it or not, the Messiah has come and fully supported, personified and exemplified that Torah. He observed it and taught it. No, He was NOT Rabbinically correct! That is why they wanted Him dead! But He was Scripturally Accurate! And He still is! So our question is, again, will we be gratfted-in to Him, and gladly bear fruit in His name? Or, will we stubbornly die in our root-bound religious pots, looking alive but having no life to share with others? Can we quote Isaiah 61 in reference to ourselves and have faith that He is doing that in us? Or are we sitting by wringing our hands with the rest of the world, helplessly watching from the sidelines as they all “go to hell in an already burning hand-basket”?
Too much toot, and not enough fruit! That is the predicament in which the religious community at large finds herself. The world is tired of our bogus blowing about. They are desperate to see something real amid the enemy's well-executed fog and lights show – of which most “churches” are just another venue. It is time we got firmly attached to the Vine, and began faithfully producing His fruit. It is time we live what we say we believe, but first we must examine what that is, and where it comes from. We must stop stubbornly clinging to worthless, lifeless doctrines and make Teshuvah to the heart or root of the Vine, which is found in His Torah. He is the Living Word! Torah is the Written Word that He is living! We can not separate them? Separating them is what has caused the great disconnect, robbing us of our fruit and life.
The “Letters to the Churches”, seven of them, which are found in the book of Revelation, addresses these disconnects rather poignantly. To one He says, “Y... You have lost your first love..”; to another He says in essence, “You think you are okay, but you are unprepared....you are not what you seem to be...”, and the messages vary in intensity and correction, but they are all intended to produce the same thing – Teshuvah! Repentance! They are each designed to address the particular disconnects within each of the seven groups and hopefully cause them to reconnect in the ways recommended! The writer challenges us again, as those bearing the Spirit of G-d have relentlessly challenged His people over and over again since the fall from Grace in the Garden, “choose life”! Another way to say that is - “stay connected to the source of Life” and allow Him to produce His life in you and through you!
That is what the Earth groans for, it is what she waits for! Some translations say that she is “in travail”, or as one in labor, anxiously waiting for us to come to maturity as “Sons”, anticipating the day when we will become fruitful boughs, spiritually productive branches, “chips” off the old Vine, clearly identifiable with Him, providing her with nourishment and refreshing.
There is no Life apart from Him. We say it. We say we believe it. Yet our lives do not reflect this belief. This fact is glaring obvious to all but ourselves. We must find and fix the cause of this disconnect between truth and fact. Teshuvah is nothing but completing the reconnect. It is simply a turning from those things that caused the disconnect in the first place, back to the things that will support the connection. Being deceived is not the sin, but willfully clinging to exposed deception is. Again I feel compelled to cry out to those claiming to be His people, “Choose – this day –whom you will serve!”
As far as those who do not yet claim to believe, perhaps they are just more honest? Perhaps they are waiting, with Mother Earth, for us to get our individual and corporate acts together? As an old favorite movie suggested, “If we build it, they will come.” We have deteriorated to just holding meetings to plan the building! Yeshua said it a bit differently, He said, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me.” He did not say, “if you do whatever you think is right and tack my name onto it!”. I think we have proven that this will not get the job done! This social experiment is a failure! It is time we got back to our roots. It is time we acknowledged the source again, and humbled ourselves enough to admit that we have been severed from Him, and to put ourselves in a position to be grafted back into Him! He is the Vine, we are supposed to be the branches – But we need to examine our fruit and ask ourselves the hard question – which is, “are we producing His fruit or not?”....