The Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree
To many ex-Catholics and ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Catholic Church and the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society are fruitless trees that must be cut down. They have indeed both caused, and continue to cause, a great deal of suffering and have led many away from the glories of the Christ. But there is hope as Jesus indicates:
“And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. “And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ “And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’”
– Luke 13:6-9
In our view, one of the lessons of this illustration is that even when a religious organization, that has taken upon itself to spread the good news of Christ Jesus, fails to produce sons of God who are qualified ambassadors of the Kingdom of the Heavens, something can be done to save the organization from destruction. What it takes is for certain ones who care enough about the organization to cultivate it and fertilize it with the true teachings of Jesus, and if the organization responds, it can be saved, which will lead a greater honor and application of the plain and open teachings of Jesus and the realization of God as the loving Father of all mankind. But as long as religion and religionists continue to judge the worthiness and value of another’s faith based on ‘old wine,’ pride and misunderstood doctrine, such religions and religionists will continue to stumble over their own feet and bring about their own demise. As Jesus strongly commanded:
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
– Matthew 7:1-5
Jesus was instructing us to look at our own errors first and when we have made needed correction, then turn to our brother and help him remove his error – not condemn him for it! The proposed changes in the Catholic Church demonstrate the need for all lovers of the Father and Christ Jesus to develop patience and long suffering toward all, and realize that it is folly to prematurely judge a person or entity. It demonstrates that we all must refrain from presumptuously identifying any person or institution as the fulfillment of various nefarious prophetic characters in the Bible. The Christ’s mercy, and the Father’s love demand such restraint. We must always have hope that divine and eternal love will work what is good for all creation, but according to a much higher and excelling understanding of universally coordinated justice. We must not be among those who ‘have a form of godly devotion, but who prove false to its power to effect change’ (2 Timothy 3:5) by prematurely judging as unworthy another religious sect. All judging is left to the Father. All judging!
Helping our brothers who are taking a misstep is like the vinedressers in the illustration who cultivated the ground and applied fertilizer to help it ‘produce fruit.’ This is the work we have undertaken by promoting the plain and open teachings of Jesus to the entire world of Christianity, beginning in our own backyard with the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. Others have joined themselves to this work and are having great results in producing ‘fine fruit.’ If we are successful in reaching the heart of the Governing Body, the organization can be saved from their own self-destruction. We suspect that many Catholics are hoping for the same thing to occur in their organization. And if so, these changes will significantly expedite our efforts to ‘bring heaven down.’
We, the authors of this site, are by nature optimistic about the power of godly devotion and the Spirit of Truth to effect positive and outstanding change, and so we fully expect the Catholic Church to make some relevant changes in its operations. At the same time, we understand that the enormous amount of changes that would be required for it to fall completely in line with the plain and open teachings of Jesus will take quite a bit of time. The larger the ship, the more slowly it turns. But we applaud their effort in advance.
Likewise, we expect changes in the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, especially in light of the potential changes in the Catholic Church. If nothing else, we believe the Governing Body has a desire to not be left behind and abandoned by the large number of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had previously been Catholics. If the Governing Body stubbornly refuses to adjust to the spiritual times, they will no doubt lose a great number of members and they will watch the small number of 8 million dwindle significantly.
But even if the ruling authorities fail to turn to the Christ in the way he commands, that should not deter us as individuals from taking a stand for the true good news – the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man with the heavenly hope – nor from doing what we know to be the Father’s will – the right and best thing under the circumstances. We may not be able to effect change from the top down, but we certainly can effect change from the bottom up. And as our brothers awaken to the true good news, they can leave behind all stubborn, stale and stagnant organizations whose demise will be left in the hands of the Most High. (Daniel 4:17) This will require each of us to be consecrated to doing the Father’s will.