While it remained unseasonably warm in Seattle through mid-October, the weather has cooled and the colors in the trees (and on lawns, sidewalks and streets) is now amazing. This picture is one I took earlier this week with my phone. As He often did with those who followed during the time He pitched His tent among us, Jesus has sent me thinking yet again about how some “common” aspect of “nature” speaks volumes of spiritual truth.
According a composite of articles from Ask.Com, “When leaves appear green, it is because they contain an abundance of chlorophyll. There is so much chlorophyll in an active leaf that the green masks other pigment colors. Light regulates chlorophyll production, so as autumn days grow shorter, less chlorophyll is produced. . . Sunny autumn days are needed for the brightest color displays, . . .. Overcast days will lead to more yellows and browns. . . . The major factor influencing autumn leaf color change is the lack of water. Not a lack of water to the entire tree, but a purposeful weaning of water from each leaf.”
I’d been thinking about personal faith as including many distinctive beliefs (beyond the essentials concerning Jesus, what I believe about a particular passage of Scripture may be very different that what you believe about that passage). Thus, while I see divisions as bad [as I addressed in “Don’t Miss That Opportunity”], I see distinctive beliefs among Christians as an essential element of personal faith (consider prayerfully Romans 14, for example, where we are told to avoid both “regarding with contempt” and “judging” others in the family because of their different personal beliefs). An effort to force “organizational unity” is not the path to living as “One Church.”
I’m thinking differences in personal faith are like the variations of color in fall leaves. They are a beautiful thing, something we can celebrate as of God. Yet, such variation does not mean the leaves came from different trees or were not part of one another while actively growing. That in itself is worthy of some contemplation.
Selah (pause and think)
Remember the earlier days, when all those distinct combinations of chemicals which give rise to color variations in the leaves were completely indiscernible, when the light was plentiful and chlorophyll production high, when each was an “active green leaf”? The green masked other pigment colors (we might say, you couldn’t see their colors for the green). As the light decreases in the days of autumn and the tree restricts the flow of water to the leaves, the other pigments become more dominant. The Lord takes my mind to “walk in the light as He is in the light” and passages where water represents the Spirit (like John 7:38 & 39 and Jeremiah 17:7 & 8). Like leave in summer, when we walk in the light (reveling in Papa’s love and loving others), people see Him in us: We are alive and life–giving (as He uses us to actively absorb from the “environment” that which is hurtful to human life [as the leaf does with carbon dioxide] and He produces in and through us that which is necessary to life [much like chlorophyll producing oxygen via the leaf]).
As I was musing on some of these things (Papa continues to “open” them to me, even as I write), I was saddened by a short video by a theologian who decries the proliferation of denominations and “independent churches” as evidence of disunity, but says he doesn’t know the solution. Brother, God gives Life! Papa’s solution is beyond theology. His solution is simple: His solution is love. We will live as “One Church” not because of doctrinal uniformity but through unconditional love actively practiced in our day to day. What was it Jesus said? They will know you are My disciples because of your doctrinal unity? Not! Rather,
Everybody will know you are Mine when they see your love for one another.
His solution is simple, but not easy—not easy but hard, or better yet—not hard but impossible—apart from His Spirit, Whom He has poured out fully into all who are His. Such was the testimony of the world concerning the early Church:
Look and wonder at how deeply they love one another.
And He opened to them a parable, saying:
To what shall I liken the Kingdom of God? It is like a tree in summer, full of green leaves, furnishing far more than shade. Yet, many revel only when the green fades and vibrant colors dominate the leaves—colors which please the eye briefly but soon fall from the tree, litter the paths, and clog the streams. May each who has ears to hear, hear.
Walk in The Light. Live by the Spirit. Love.