I am often teased in our family as the person who often shares some random fact. (It’s all in good fun, but some of those facts are pretty obscure.) I love learning new things and it seems God leaves little clues and fingerprints in so many places we miss. When I discover one of them, I can’t resist sharing.
A few years ago as my husband and I were vacationing in California, we visited the powerful National Redwood Forest. The trees are stunning in their height and girth, but this week I discovered something about redwood trees that I did not know that provides me with a powerful metaphor to remind me of spiritual principles we seem to have forgotten in this period of time when division is common.
When you see these mighty redwood trees or even photographs of them what you can’t see is the root structure. I would suspect it ran very deep as I consider the oak and maple trees in our own lawn. (I got to observe that firsthand when we needed to have several maple trees removed a few years ago.) But the root system of redwood trees despite their height and girth is actually shallow.
It was Francine Rivers who enlightened me in her book Earth Psalms:
“A good wind could blow one over if it were standing alone like an oak tree on a hillside. But because redwoods grow together, the roots are interwoven, adding strength so that when the winds come and the rains pour and soak the soil, these tree stand and continue to grow − some for more than a thousand years.”
Then she adds:
“…redwoods’ roots aren’t connected only to the trees on either side of them. They extend up to one hundred feet from the base of the tree in every direction − far enough to connect with scores of other redwoods.”
What would happen if we in the body of Christ took this evidence of God’s fingerprint in nature and applied it in our local body of believers and beyond?
We live in a period where division is commonplace in every area, but in scripture we are repeatedly reminded of the importance of working together as believers and how vital that is. That would appear very straightforward, but division has infiltrated much of the church body today as well. We see it in headlines and hear whispers of it within our own church communities.
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church admonished them on this point at the outset:
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV)
Paul understood the peril of division within the church to the local body as well as the individuals within it. He knew Satan’s desire was to isolate and separate to undo us all and reduce the power of the Gospel. He not only addressed this issue with the Corinthian church, but to others as well.
To the church at Thessalonica:
“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NIV)
To the church at Colossae:
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
To the church in Galatia:
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
And to the church in Rome:
“so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
Romans 12:5 (NIV)
James and John also addressed this concern in these two examples:
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
1 John 1:7 (NIV)
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
James 5:16 (NIV)
Satan knows that if we were to use this story about how God created the redwoods, we would be nearly unstoppable.
Listen to some of Matthew quoting the words of Jesus:
“Any kingdom that fights against itself will end up in ruins. And any family or community splintered by strife will fall apart.”
Matthew 12:25 (TPT)
Lord, help us to be more like redwoods. Even if our roots are not so deep, let us not be separated so when the winds of hardship, loss, and evil beat against us, we will stand as one.