The sun rose amidst the sounds of brightly colored birds cawing and singing, monkeys screaming and hooting, and wild cats snarling as usual in the Amazon. Rain drenched the jungle in the early morning and now the rain forest was a hot steam bath, but all this was normal as Yinney prepared to leave the rubber trees of Bubba and continue his own journey back to his 7th Day Tree.
Bubba and a few monkeys had gathered to bid him farewell, but Bubba also had one last question, “If I may be so selfish to ask one last question as you are preparing to leave, I would be most interested in your answer.”
“Of course,” Yinney agreed.
“It pertains to faith and works,” Bubba began. “You say Buddhism is a religion requiring the devotee to perfect himself, or a salvation by works as you put it. Is that right?”
“Yes,” Yinney confirmed, “And you agree the 8 Fold Path is the target of your discipline to become such a selfless person as if no longer having fleshly cravings, but completely ‘No Self’. Right? And with every reincarnation you hope to finally reach that selfless life.”
“That is correct,” Bubba agreed, “but does not your own religion state that faith without works is dead?” Is that not the same thing?”
“Oh, you are very good, Bubba, and that is such an excellent question. I have so enjoyed our conversations. I do hope you will also visit me at my 7th Day Tree. I would love to teach you deep things concerning God’s REST we enter into. Just as God ceased from his own works after the 6th day and entered REST on the 7th.”
“Adam and Eve were created on that 6th day. So they woke up in all the preparations God had already made. The work was done and they flowed into that 7th day of REST with God, and lived in that until they broke the REST with sin. That was all a picture of reentering God’s REST one day through Christ. Jesus has already made all the preparations. We reenter a spiritual garden with him. When we are born again, we wake up in the 6th day but immediately enter into a spiritual 7th.”
“Faith is a powerful force. If it is true faith it changes what our goals and desires had been before. We suddenly have new focus and new desires. So naturally we begin to move in that direction. This is a form of works, but not because we are trying to save ourself, we REST in Christ for that. It’s actually ‘God at work’ in us. We become a temple of his Holy Spirit, who is like a supernatural gardener! He begins recreating a garden of Eden in us!”
“It is as if he continually works against the weeds in us, and plants new flowers and plants bringing forth good fruit. We begin to live differently as naturally as an apple tree bears apples. It is a form of work, but completely powered by our love for him, and God’s love for us.”
“God told Adam to tend and keep the garden. But it was a perfect garden, so what work was there for him to do? It was about maintaining the spiritual atmosphere. It was about maintaining the Presence of God in the garden, the relationship Adam had with God. There was a certain spiritual table-setting in that place, and Adam allowed Satan a seat at the table. Much like Judas, but Jesus pointed Judas out and maintained his faithfulness to God even though Judas was there. So those scriptures you speak of, is simply the apple tree bearing apples, as it should naturally do, because of God at work in us.”
“Maybe it is hard for you to see the difference, but that is where grace comes in. Jesus said my yoke is easy and my burden is light. It’s not about a bunch of rules and laws anymore. Jesus set us free. It’s about a love relationship in which you delight in pleasing the one you love, and your life flows in that relationship as you walk together with God in the garden.”
Yinney ended his explanation, and Bubba smiled, “Once again you have succeeded in giving me a very deep answer, and yet so simple, my slow moving friend. I understand a garden and gardener. I understand love and relationship, for I lost a very special person in my past. I understand a banana tree bearing bananas, or it is not a banana tree!” Bubba shouted and began laughing again along with all the other monkeys too. “Go in peace my friend. You have given me many beautiful answers, and in my faith we appreciate true beauty. I will visit your tree and learn more of this REST you speak of.”
Yinney smiled and waved good-bye as he began his slow but methodical trip home to his special tree. He had no other encounters and in two days his home came into view. He rested, and then the next day made his dangerous trip to the ground to poo. This special poo which even included nutrients from poisonous leaves only he could eat, would strengthen his tree for days to come.
Yinney was very happy with his first trip out. He had met Cappy the capybarra, Kujo the spider monkey, Bubba the Buddhist and his friends. Word would begin spreading of a sloth and his 7th Day Tree. He would hang his little sign offering spiritual teaching to one and all, and live each day in the glow of slow.