I once read something fascinating about the giant redwood trees in California. They are among the tallest and oldest trees in the world. Some exceed 300 feet in height and can be over 2,500 years old!
I would think that trees so tall and so old would have a tremendous root system, reaching down and outward into the ground for a hundred feet or more. Wouldn’t you think that, too?
Well, they don’t! In fact, amazingly, considering their size and height, redwoods have a very shal- low root system. So, how are they able to stand so tall and regal and strong after all these years? Especially since their roots aren’t deep and expansive?
Here’s the answer: It’s because one tree’s roots intertwine with all the trees around it to the extent that they are connected and locked to each other. Thus, when the storms come and the winds blow, these beautiful giants stand tall by supporting each other.
Here, brothers and sisters, is a beautiful parable of the Church as Christ meant it to be. The Church can mean a lot of different things to us. But the one thing Christ intended the Church to be is his “living Body” on earth. And what’s more, he has called you and me as members of the “body” to be his partners in carrying on his mission. That means you and I are the hands and feet and heart of Christ, drawn together in love but called to move out and serve.
Something else Christ intended is that the mem- bers of the Body are to be like the roots of those redwood trees. We are to love and encourage and support each other. Sure, we may have different opinions on a lot of things, see things differently, hold to different ideas and assumptions, but that’s always been true whenever a group of people come together. Yet, at least in the Church, we still find ways to do more than just get along, even if that means we agree to disagree—but with love and respect.
For those of us who profess Christ as our Lord and Savior, there really is no other way. Indeed, how else are we to be his witnesses, carrying on the works of love and ministry and mission in the world? How else do we give Him all the glory? How else do we honor and give thanks to Him who has given us so much?
Yes, these are challenging times for all of us,
and in so many ways. So many are being swayed to choose sides, and even to look upon others as the enemy (or as the saying goes, “If you aren’t for us, then you are ‘agin’ us”). It’s become pervasive. Pick an issue, be it politics, culture, even religion, pretty much anything, and see the words and emotions explode like gasoline poured on a fire. Even reasonable people aren’t immune, and, sadly, neither is the Church.
What can we do? I think we have to be able to talk with each other, to talk about issues, and beliefs, and things that matter. And to talk about these things as Christians, as people filled with the love of Jesus Christ, especially when there is a difference of opinion.
The Apostle Paul offers good words for us:
“Let everyone speak the truth with their neighbor, for we are members one of another…let no evil talk come out of your mouths (and hearts), but only such as is good for edifying and which may impart grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
In our effort to “speak truth and impart grace” among ourselves as Christ’s Body, we begin a new series of messages on Sunday, October 28, we are calling “HOLY CONVERSATIONS.”
John Wesley spoke of “HOLY CONFERENCING.” Please hear me when I say that we will not in any way be asking folks to compromise their beliefs and opinions about anything. Rather, it is all about us choosing the ways we will live and serve together as the Body of Christ…even as the world is pushing us to live and act differently.
Please pray for Lauren and me…and especially our church as we strive to give glory to Christ in every way.
In the love of Christ,