Yesterday, I wrote about how the true believer plants him- or herself as close to the Source of Life as possible. It’s a beautiful metaphor (simile, technically) about trees found in Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17, and it’s worth meditating on if you never have (the Scriptures I mean, not my post!). The believer was meant to grow deep roots, to dig deeply into the love and the grace and the mystery of God. To grow in intimacy with Him. That’s why you were made: to glorify God by enjoying Him forever! It’s not a passive exercise, by any means, and it doesn’t happen just because you have a general preference for Christianity over other religions. You have to intentionally and consistently seek to abide in Him. That was yesterday’s post.
But if you remember, I began that post with a little anecdote about trees planted close together inevitably having tangled up roots, and Justin reassured me that this typically wasn’t a problem for the trees. I never revisited the concept of the tangled roots, but that’s what really got me thinking in the first place.
If the flourishing believer is a tree planted by a stream, yielding fruit and never fearing the drought, then what’s the local church? Well, it’s a little forest that sprouted up all around this winding stream full of Living Water — it’s a whole ecosystem! One that provides warmth, shelter, and nutrition to many of God’s creatures, one that displays His creativity, whispers His majesty, and grows deep and wide, all because it’s nourished by His love.
Even a Narnia-like winter can’t sap the life out of these trees. They have an unseen support system underground, a community. Their strength lies in two things: the Source of Life and each other.*
Remember what Justin said about tangled roots? It’s not a problem for a tree. “It’s only a problem when you’re trying to dig one up.” Their lives are so interwoven with the community around them that it’s quite difficult to uproot any of them.
While I don’t know of a Scripture that talks about a group of trees in this particular way, there is a literal description of the early church in Acts:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:42-47 ESV)
Community. A group of trees with tangled roots, seeking God. It’s a really good thing. It’ll only cause a problem for the enemy who is trying to uproot you, and his having a problem with that is a REALLY good thing.
Come back tomorrow to read my concluding thoughts on trees, spiritually speaking!
*Disclaimer: Obviously, unhealthy relationships that choke the life out of you if you grow too close to someone else, leaning on him or her as a substitute for God, are not good. This happens to trees, too. Don’t do that. God must be first and ultimate, and then other believers encourage you, and you encourage them. You should benefit from both.