All Hat and No Cattle!


In Texas, I’m told, they have an expression, “All hat and no cattle.” This phrase describes someone who wants to look like the ‘real thing’ but on closer inspection are not what they seem. In one of our times together this week we had a discussion on just this thing.
Jesus is on his way to the temple for a radical encounter with the religious system of that day when he happens upon a fig tree that is “all leaf and no fruit”. He curses the tree and, we find later, it withers up from the roots. In this parabolic act Jesus demonstrates the connection of fruit and root. While this is true with fig trees it is true of Israel, which the prophets have represented as a fig tree for years. Jesus is about to “take the axe to the root” of the nations religious system. He enters the temple where we all know he over turns the tables of the money changers but he also puts a stop to the whole sacrificial system when he halts the carrying of merchandise through the courts. This is as radical as it gets. His act addresses the fruitlessness of that religious system by addressing the roots!
So our discussion led us to question ‘Where are our roots sunk?” We spend a lot of time looking at the fruit or lack of it in our lives, and we are especially good at examining other people’s fruit but if we really want to produce fruit, fruit that will last, then we must tend to our roots.
As we discussed this we decided that the soil we must sink our roots in is the love of God and the Word of God.
“But how do we sink our roots?” came as the natural question. The next passage talks about belief but not just a ‘head’ belief, but as James might put it ‘faith in action’. We sink our roots when we actively love God and act in obedience to his Word. These activities drive our roots into God’s soil and He produces the fruit in our lives.
When I am covetous it is because my root system is sunk into the consumer driven culture of this world. If I want different fruit I must, in partnership with God, take an axe to those roots and concentrate on sinking roots into God’s good soil.
I cannot produce fruit, good or bad, but my rootedness determines the type of fruit produced in my life.
I try to constantly keep in mind that the word radical means ‘back to the root’. I hope to be a radical follower of the Radical Saviour. I’m glad that I have companions on the way like my friends of the Street Hope Community.
(I wrote this a little early because I am headed off to a National Community Chaplains’ Conference at Acadia. I am hoping this will be a time of tending the roots so as to produce good fruits.)


2 comments on “All Hat and No Cattle!

  1. Good morning Reed:
    Thank you very much for the wonderful message again on your blog! They are always very inspirational brother. Enjoy your time at the conference it is great getting together with other brothers and sisters in Ministry as we did earlier this month with our Threshold gathering.

  2. May God continue to bless both you and Linda as you willingly “tend to your roots” and go about being available to Him for His work. What a gift you both are to the St. John community!
    Hugs and blessings.

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