[forthright] Tree-huggers and John the Baptist

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 2010 21:49:08 -0300
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: FINAL PHASE

Tree-huggers and John the Baptist
  by J. Randal Matheny, editor

  "The axe is already laid at the root of the
  trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn't
  bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into
  the fire" (Matthew 3:10).

The Brazilian government controls the sale of chain
saws. Trees have become nearly sacred.
Environmentalists have seen to it that you can go to
jail quicker for possessing a wild animal than for
killing a human being. The other day I used the phrase,
"to kill two birds with one stone." Now that comes from
an era before the sanctification of Flora and Fauna.

Just so, John the Immersor's ringing call to repentance
sounds strange to modern ears. Cut down a tree that
doesn't bear the kind of fruit we like? Why, every tree
is good, every plant has its place, every green thing
contributes to cleaner air and and better environment!
So say the scientific experts who serve as gurus and
priests. All hail the tree-huggers!

By this ancient metaphor of the axe at the roots, John
declares that some people will not stand before God on
the last day. They will be destroyed. Judgment is near.
Repentance now is a must. Repent or perish! Judgment is
like the axe laid at the root of the useless tree, as
the woodsman measures with his eye exactly where to
strike with his first swing. Judgment has begun.

Time is short, so be quick, be urgent, do not tarry.
Never mind those who think repentance is an outmoded
concept. Forget the hecklers who draw the weirdos
hefting "Repent or Perish!" signs. Heed not the glib
tongues of those who assure that grace will cover all,
that God's mercy will sift it all out in the end.

John was the odd figure. His appearance must have
frightened children. His diet book certainly wouldn't
have attracted many buyers. His piece of ground wasn't
prime real estate. And his message was jarring.

But it rang clear and strong to a soft and selfish
society. It cut through the hype and the hope of a
secular kingdom to declare the change of heart and
turning of the soul to God. His words whistled like an
arrow straight to the heart. Or like the whack of an
axe on the roots of the tree.

So read the verse and let the axe at the roots jar the
modern ear.

For John still is announcing the coming of the Messiah.

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