Alive or Dead?

I’m a rotten gardener. I mean, a truly rotten gardener. The only plants I can keep alive are those so-called air plants, and I only have about a 50-50 chance with them.

©iStock.com/EasyBuy4u

©iStock.com/EasyBuy4u

But I do know a thing or two about plants (on a purely intellectual level, mind you). For example, I know that a branch has to be connected to a tree to stay alive. It may think it wants to check out the view from across the street, but if it’s disconnected from its own tree and blown across the street, it won’t be happy very long. Instead it will quickly experience the pain of dehydration, malnutrition, and finally death.

As I look around, I see a lot of people who are unhappy, unfulfilled, or unsuccessful. These people often courageously try to improve themselves, convinced that there’s some basic flaw in their personal programming that needs to be corrected. But that’s a lot like a severed branch trying to be a better branch. What that branch needs – what we need to solve our unhappiness and lack of fulfillment – is to establish and maintain a connection with our Tree.

The problem is that we, as a society, have focused on the individual instead of on the organism. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with recognizing individual contributions, respecting individual rights, or accommodating individual preferences. These are all great. But we were never meant to be merely individuals. We were meant to be part of an organism, and we will never be truly fulfilled – truly happy – until we rejoin that organism. Call it a vine (John 15), a body (1 Cor. 12), or whatever other metaphor fits, but that organism must always begin and remain in Christ or we will be disconnected from the only Source of the vital nutrition we require as human beings.

©iStock.com/ Norlito

©iStock.com/ Norlito

Our God, our Tree, never intended that His branches should know the agony of being parched with thirst, weak from hunger, or just plain dead. He never even wanted us to be unhappy. That’s why He came: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, NAS, emphasis mine).  And He told us how to experience the full life He designed us for:  “Abide in Me, and I in you” (John 15:4). This is true because we were, first and foremost, “created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10, emphasis mine).

Just as only a tree can provide the sap needed by a branch, only He can provide the joy we crave. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).

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