February 20th, 2009 Edition.
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Commentary: Trusting in God’s Horticulture
By Soo-Inn Tan

Saw the following news item yesterday.

[MOSCOW (AP)   A jury in Moscow voted unanimously Thursday to acquit
three men in the killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, dimming hopes for
justice in a case that has mocked Russia’s claims to be a modern democratic

The brazen 2006 slaying of the crusading investigative reporter sent a grim
signal to other dissenters in Russia, proving that even the most prominent of
Kremlin critics could be murdered with impunity. And it provoked
international outrage, raising suspicions that her death was ordered by
prominent public officials.

A jury acquitted two Chechen brothers and a morose ex-cop following a trial
that defense attorneys and Politkovskaya’s supporters said was marred by
prosecution errors and oversights. All three were suspected of playing minor
roles in the killing. A suspected triggerman, a third brother, has not been

Politkovskaya was shot five times in the elevator of her central Moscow
apartment building on Oct. 7, 2006, after a trip to the supermarket.

(“3 acquitted in brazen slaying of Russian reporter,” Douglas Birch and David
Nowak, Associated Press, 19th February, 2009)]

Some days it’s tough to seek first the Kingdom of God and His
righteousness. Some days it’s tough to care.

Here in Malaysia, we have to come to terms with the horrendous injustice of
a political leader driven out of public office because an ex-boyfriend releases
nude pictures that he took of her while she was sleeping. While followers of
Jesus may not agree with her sexual ethics, we are angered to see
politicians using this gross betrayal of personal privacy to destroy an
opponent’s political career, and doing it from a posture of moral superiority.
Makes me sick.

There are days you have to wonder — why bother? Evil people go
unpunished while the blood of their victims cry for justice to a heaven that
seems to be silent. In times like these I turn to the parables of Jesus. I
remember these two in particular.

[Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it?
It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and
becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.”
He also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like? It is like the yeast a
woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three
measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.” (Luke 13: 18-21

Commenting on the two parables, Darrell L. Bock writes:

[ … what starts out small (the Kingdom of God) will eventually come to the
point where many may dwell securely (mustard seed) and where the
penetration will be total (leaven). The kingdom looks deceptively weak and
impotent now, but the exercise of its inherent power allows it to transform
and spread its scope…
The parables represent a call to trust in the way God is developing the
kingdom. They are also designed to assure followers that the kingdom’s
current small size is not where the program will end. The kingdom will start
small, but eventually God will cause it to penetrate the whole earth. He will
reign in his kingdom. (Darrell L. Bock, Luke 9:51-24:53, Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker Books, 1996, 1229.)]

Bear in mind that in Jesus’s time, the Roman Empire was everywhere and
looked like it would last forever. The new community that Jesus started was a
rag tag band of fishermen and tax collectors who didn’t look like they would
survive for more than a week. The Roman Empire is long gone. The gospel of
the Kingdom continues to spread throughout the world, changing lives and
blessing people.

Indeed there are days when the Kingdom looks “deceptively weak and
impotent.” On days like these I remember Jesus’s parables and remember
that God is at work in history whether He shows me His working or not. Most
days He does not show His hand. But we have history, we have Good Friday
and Easter, and we have the Word to remind us that the King is always
working and that the Kingdom will triumph in the end. And in remembering, I
stare down the twin temptations of despair and hatred. I continue to “trust in
the Lord and do good.”

Psalm 37
A psalm of David.

Don’t worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.

Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

Soon the wicked will disappear.
Though you look for them, they will be gone.
The lowly will possess the land
and will live in peace and prosperity.

The wicked plot against the godly;
they snarl at them in defiance.
But the Lord just laughs,
for he sees their day of judgment coming.
(Psalm 37:1-13 NLT)