Last summer I was walking through Chapters when a book caught my attention. The book was, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben and it rocked my world. I’ve never been into trees. I did work in a lumber mill for two summers, but that is more like the opposite of loving trees…
Anyway, as I read this book, the parallels between life in Christ and trees began to come alive. I would talk to my wife, who would usually laugh at me.
I believe nature has a lot to teach us about life. I especially think it has a lot to teach us a lot about the church. Maybe this is why the Scriptures speak of trees so often (there’s a lot, trust me).
Tree’s can teach us a lot. Now, when I say that the Church can learn something from trees, I’m not talking about your local assembly or parish. What I am speaking about is the church as a whole. Here is a short list:
1) Unity and togetherness will make us stronger
“…it is not possible for the trees to grow too close to each other. Quite the opposite. Huddling together is desirable and the trunks are often spaced no more than 3 feet apart.”
And so it is with the church. We need each other.
2) Don’t compete
“The average tree grows its branches out until it encounters the branch tips of a neighbouring tree of the same height. It doesn’t grow any wider because the air and better light in this space are already taken.”
This ties in with unity. We are not in competition with each other. The Southern Baptist church at the entrance of my neighbourhood is going to reach people for Jesus who I will never reach and vice versa. It’s not my job to recruit people from their church into mine. We’re already on the same team. One way of looking at it is, we might be different restaurants, but we have the same owner.
3) We are in this together
“Every tree…is valuable to the community and worth keeping around for as long as possible. And that is why even sick individuals are supported and nourished until they recover.”
We need to help each other, not try and leach off each other. The Great Commission isn’t about recruitment from within the ranks. The Great Commission is about going out to those who don’t know the glorious richness that they can find in Christ.
When a church is struggling that is our opportunity to help them fulfill their God calling. It may be different than ours. Perfect, we need all types. It’s not an opportunity to kick a church when it is down or increase our numbers through solicitation. It’s a time for prayer and support.
4) Pastors warn other pastors about the weeds
“If a giraffe starts eating an African acacia, the tree releases a chemical into the air that signals that a threat is at hand. As the chemical drifts through the air and reaches other trees, they ‘smell’ it and are warned of the danger. Even before the giraffe reaches them, they begin producing toxic chemicals.”
The wheat is too precious for us to allow the weeds to strangle them, especially after they have done this in our own church. I’m not talking about the pastor gossiping. I am speaking of a pastoral warning that can hopefully help the redemption process of the weed and protection of the wheat that we are entrusted with. God’s grace is so amazing that it can turn even the vilest weed into the strongest wheat. However, unless we know that the weeds are there before they sprout, it could cost us much wheat (Matt 13).
5) Pray together
“Every day in summer, trees release about 29 tons of oxygen into the air per square mile of forest. A person breathes in nearly 2 pounds of oxygen a day, so that’s the daily requirement for about ten thousand people.”
Just as the trees join together in an exhale that brings life to us, what if the church could unite, putting aside theological idiosyncracies and pray together. With a joint heart, we could release something powerful into the air.Tweet
These are just a few of the lessons we can learn from the tree.
All quotes are taken from The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben