Christ is the path toward coming alive again
Have you ever been to a place that was dark and dangerous and you couldn’t wait to get out of there? As believers in Christ, sometimes we find ourselves in a place spiritually where there seems to be darkness all around, with no light to be seen. We are either dead spiritually, or we are alive in Christ. The Church today is either alive in Christ or dead in our transgressions. We are either on fire for God or lukewarm, having the power of God or no power, full of the Spirit or full of self, enjoying God’s presence or walking in fear, having God’s peace and prosperity of the soul or being anxious and having no peace. Where are you today?
Imagine a tree — half of it dead with no leaves, barren and dark; the other half alive, vibrant, growing and filled with colorful leaves. Let’s analyze this tree. What a huge contrast! One side of the tree is like our lives when we are spiritually dead: no life, no hope, full of death and defeat. The other side of the tree is like our lives when we are spiritually alive in Christ: full of light, fruitfulness, harvest, joy, life, hope, and a future! Jeremiah 17:5-8 says, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.'” Which half of the tree are you?
What causes the lack of leaves on a tree? What is the solution? The first thing that we must do is to reduce the twigs, so that growth can come. In a spiritual context, we must not let the little things in life stop our growth. We must not allow “stuff” to influence us from growing with God. The second thing we must do is to remove dead branches. These can be bigger things in our lives. If we don’t keep the branches pruned, they will keep us from growing. Over time, larger and more visible dead branches will appear if we don’t deal with them. The third solution, if the tree is already dead because of brittleness or decay, is to cut the tree down and plant a new tree. Sometimes we get so far away from God that we need to repent and start a new relationship with Him.
Once we have completed these steps, here’s what we need to do to keep growing. Firstly, we need to water the tree. As Christians, we must drink from the Spirit of God. We must spend time in His presence daily, cultivating our relationship with Him and talking to Him. Secondly, we must fertilize the tree with nutrients. We must read the Word of God, the Bible, every day. We must hide His words in our hearts. And thirdly, we must prune the tree. We need to come before the Lord and ask Him to search our hearts for any sin or wickedness in our lives. We then need to repent (turn around and go the other way) and follow after Him. This will bring health and vitality to our lives and our relationship with God.
The Bible compares us to trees. Jeremiah says there are two kinds of people: those who trust in human beings and those who trust in the Lord. The people of Judah were trusting in false gods and military alliances instead of in God, so this made them barren and unfruitful. In contrast, those who trusted in the Lord flourished, planted like trees by the water.
Did you know that trees are the oldest living things on the earth today? God gives each tree a ring to mark its birthday! Trees keep giving. They give life and beauty. They give shade and rest. They produce oxygen and hold back erosion. Trees offer shelter, food, and protection. Trees represent harvest.
What kind of tree are you today? Be like the tree in Psalm 1:3: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)