Monday, January 02, 2006

To Justify or Condemn: A Forest Fable

Flying high above the Wisconsin prairie, a lone crow directed its course. From his mouth hung a brilliant cluster of orange berries, accentuated colorfully against the dismal autumn landscape. A sugar maple, dressed in its yearly multi-hued coat, welcomed the bird as he approached; but the energetic creature, far too busy for such niceties, merely deposited his cargo in his home on Maple Branch and departed for another round trip.

When the last streaks of daylight faded from the western sky, a veritable heap of mountain ash berries dotted the otherwise homely nest, adding a jewel-like radiance to the little abode; but later that night, howling winds and pelting rain disturbed the bird's cozy home. Three-dimensional orange dots, once safely imbedded hours before, cascaded to the ground below, joining the fury that was Rain in its gravity-aided race downward.

In the days and months that followed, the tiny mountain ash berries took different routes to their final destinations. Several, blown far from the crow's nest, were found by woodland animals and eaten. Others lay scattered about the forest floor like dispersed gemstones, adding welcome radiance to the otherwise dim woodland. Yet others the bird meticulously located, determinedly affixing them to their proper positions in his nest home, where he would later treat himself to such edible wall fixtures. Amongst the many that were transported by the crow that autumn day, only one seed survived to tell its adventures.

I found that seed (now a magnificent tree) but twenty paces from my Wisconsin cabin. The wooded lot, in desperate need of sunlight at the time, caused me to be sorely tempted to end the life of this now stately Mountain Ash. But its colorful springtime blossoms and bewitching fall fruit cautioned me against such a deed. And on winter evenings, when the air is perfectly frigid and oxygen in my cabin is at a minimum because of the depleting force of my blazing fireplace, I often meander out of doors to catch sight of that tree which was, long ago, only a possibility.

It was upon these things that I meditated one winter’s afternoon and, happening upon Matthew 12 in my New Testament, proceeded to embrace in the corridors of conscience: “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”—Matthew 12:35-37 (KJV).

Like the tree’s magnificent manufacture of thousands of berries each autumn, I produce dozens of word-seeds every day and am, in fact, responsible for each of them. As the crow’s mountain ash berries had been absconded, some by beasts and others by birds and the natural process of decomposition, my words, also, are often lost to the elements. But unlike them, each will one day require reckoning. The day will come when I shall stand before the Almighty Judge, accounting for every word, whether spoken or written.

And I prayed, “Lord, let my words be only those which justify, evidencing Thy work, which has made me righteous by no cause of my own. Amen.”

Congruity: What Really Counts

What is congruity? According to Webster’s, it is primarily “the condition, quality, or fact of being congruous; specifically, (a) agreement; harmony; (b) fitness; appropriateness” and, “in geometry, exact coincidence; said of two or more figures.”

Congruity to the Word of God and to the Son of God is, or should be, the goal of every proclaimed biblical fundamentalist. In the study and use of geometry, congruity is both significant and useful. Many truths can be derived about figures, lines, and angles based on their relative congruity. Segment lengths and angle measures can be known, sometimes only by likeness, when statements regarding congruity are made. The side-angle-side axiom is a perfect example of this. It is really quite simple and logically beautiful. Yet this principle can be basically explained thus: if two geometric figures that are exactly the same are laid atop one another, then they are congruent. If they are not the same, then they cannot be congruent.

Of course, the Bible does not use the word “congruity.” However, I believe the idea of congruity fits well with a few biblical principles. One is the idea of conformity. Romans 8:29 states that believers are to be “conformed (similar, made like to) to the image of His Son.” The well-known passage in Romans 12:1-2 tells the saints not to be similar to the world but to be changed by a constant renewing of the mind. This thought is also presented in 2 Corinthians 3:18. Paul writes, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.” It is clear from examining these passages that the Spirit works transformation to the likeness of Christ as we behold the Son in His Word. I think that aiming for congruity to Christ is biblical. What joy it would be to, in the geometric sense, lay my life on Christ’s and have it be exactly the same--congruent.

Therefore, let every fundamentalist “behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Let us focus on the things Jesus focused on, setting aside our own ideas and desires. Let us abide in and love Him by keeping His commandments, setting aside thwarting sin. Let us show the world true discipleship through fervent love for and service to the brethren, laying aside enmity and strife. Let us aim for congruity to Christ.