Jesus used many parables and examples from nature during His time on earth. The book of Romans tells us that we are without excuse because since creation His attributes have been clearly seen and understood through what was created. This has caused me to look at spiritual concepts and view them through nature and thus enrich my understanding of them.
Look at the Church, the Bride of Christ, we all understand that concept. We see the denominational diversity, divisions and competitiveness – how can we really become the one Bride of Christ? Jesus said they shall be known because they love one another! The conflicts and religious wars of history have shown that that hasn’t happened. How can we accept one another’s differences and love one another at the same time? Let us look in creation for a metaphor and see if we can find an answer.
A tree has four components, a trunk, branches, leaves and roots. Without these it cannot live each being dependent on the other as a whole and the spirit (life-force) within that maintains its cycles. If we look at each part and compare them to denominational or religious philosophies, we can see how much we depend on one another and therefore need each other to prepare the Bride of Christ.
The trunk, solid and immovable on what is right or wrong, black or white, no shades of grey. The Word of God is the Truth; we need to be reminded that this is so, that our focus is kept on the Triune God and that no other philosophy can woo us from this Truth. Trunks are covered with bark, that bark can be smooth or rough, striped, ringed or covered with thorns, and depending on how our Truth is projected or told to others can either protect or harm them. Fundamental Truth and belief systems.
The branches represent those who teach the Intellectual and Practical outworking of this central Truth. Their programs reach out like the branches; they offer shade and shelter to the weary and to passersby. They reach out to causes like prisons, missions and good works. They bear fruit; they feed the hungry, comfort the sorrowing. They are always reaching out, even in winter when the branches are bare.
The leaves are seasonal and colorful. You know the wind is blowing by the rustling in the leaves. Jesus compared the Spirit to the wind; no one knows where it comes from or where it will go. The leaves flutter and give trees their glorious colors. In the Psalms it says the trees in the field will clap their hands in joy, charismatic movement. We need the joyousness of the leaves to lift our souls in worship above the heaviness of life and to know when the Spirit is moving. The leaves are there for a season, then drop to the ground where in due course they provide food for the roots. The young leaves are then formed for the next season’s growth. There are seasonal patterns in our spirituality and belief systems.
We cannot see the roots, but we know they are there, they draw the nourishment and water up from the soil to feed the tree. There are people who set themselves apart to pray, those who withdraw from the world, contemplatives and mystics where meditation and prayer are central; the prayer warriors, monasteries, convents and communities. Even if we do not see them, if these people stopped their function in the Church it would become very sick and maybe even die. We all need their prayer and deep connection to the Creator
Nature has given us a solution to the problem of religious and denominational difference and diversity. We must accept the place God has assigned for each of us individually, whether it is the trunk, branches, leaves or roots and fulfil our function with all our hearts, minds and souls. This may be for a season or for a lifetime. We then must accept that God has assigned different people to different places and they are there to create balance, diversity, color and strength to His church so that the Church Universal can fulfil its function.
If we each maintain our own identity and function and accept everyone else’s identity and function as God given and as part of the whole, together we can transform the Bride of Christ because the Church will be known “because they love one another”. A tree will not survive if any one of the four components are missing so we need each other to grow in love and unity so we may be THE Bride and not many brides.