Spread, Share, Offer
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Two years ago, my wife and I were blessed to be able to go on a choir trip out to California. On the trip, we had the opportunity to go ziplining through the giant redwoods. It was an awesome experience that was both terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. We went with around 50 kids who all participated (which took up quite a bit of time), so while we waited for each group to arrive at the next tree stop, the tour guide would tell us facts about the redwood trees.
The tour guide told us bagoodles of super interesting tidbits, but the one that really stuck with me involved how the trees themselves grew and became so large. The guide told us that the redwoods were part of a giant system of roots that stretched on for miles. With trees that grow as tall as redwoods, one would assume that their roots would dig very deep into the earth. However, that is not the case, and most redwoods roots only dig about 9-12 feet into the earth. In order to maintain their height, the roots instead grow outward and wrap themselves around other roots and fuse with them. All of the trees become connected through the the fusing of their roots, and the guide told us that at one time scientists had pumped blue dye into the ground and found a tree a few miles away with blue leaves growing.
This told the scientists something very important; namely, that the trees took care of each other. If one tree was in a dry area, the other trees would send the water through their roots to the dry tree. They were all separate trees, and yet they were all connected as one giant network of roots that supported one another allowing each tree to grow tall and live for hundreds of years.
When I think about these trees, I think about how we should be doing evangelism. All of us know someone in our Church or in our friend circles who is like a giant redwood. That person stretches their roots out and supports the weaker trees in the Church or in the community. Not only that, but they provide water and nourishment for the trees who are going through dry times in their lives. They seek out the trees who are disconnected from the root system, and they go after them. They keep offering their roots, they keep offering their water, and ultimately, they want to connect them to the source tree.
The Bible tells us that all of us gentiles have been engrafted into a Vine. It also tells us that Jesus is the Vine, and that we are the branches. Jesus feeds us, supports us, and it is our duty to stretch our branches and grab onto others so that they can become part of the Vine.
Being “one” with the vine gives us life, nourishment, and support, but it also does something else. It connects us all to an epic story that has been going on since time immemorial. A story that is still being told to this very day, and a story in which all of us have a part to play. This is the story of God’s redemptive work throughout history and beyond (cue buzz lightyear)!
Too often in today’s world the gospel is presented as a series of propositions and check marks rather than life giving good news. The TV preachers tell us that if you would just say a prayer, or check a box, or sow a seed, then God will bless you and your life will be easy and simple and everything will be hunky dory. But that isn’t what the Bible says, and it isn’t even a good story for that matter. If we evangelize in this way, we arent leading unbelievers to the Vine, but instead to shallow pools of water. The pools eventually dry up, and the roots are off once again to the next source of water. Jesus alone is the everlasting water source, and our job in the story is to lead our friends, family, and worst enemies to that water.
So then, when we tell others about Jesus, we arent just offering them a trip to Heaven when they die. Heaven isn’t the point, it is the outcome of faith. Heaven is but crumbs, whereas Christ is the feast. What we are (or should be) offering is a chance to be a part of the greatest story that has ever been told right here and now. We are offering them a root system of support in which we grow together as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are offering them a chance to play a part in God’s big redemptive story. In short, we are offering them eternal life, not just later at death, but here and now.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Notice the present tense of what Paul is saying. The site of the new creation is you. Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new,” not, “Behold, I am making all new things.” You are valuable, you are loved, and you are being renewed day by day. Jesus made you and He wants you to be a part of His story. And so, when it comes to evangelism, we have to stop putting the emphasis of conversion on going to Heaven and instead show them that they can experience tastes of Heaven here and now through a personal relationship with Jesus. We have to show them the beauty of the story in which we all take part, and bring them into the family of God.
So, the challenge for all of us this year as we think about the “what if” question is this, “Will you be a redwood tree?” Will you stretch out your branches into your neighborhoods and reach for the disconnected trees? Will you use your branches to support others in the church? Will you provide nourishment and life giving water to the dry trees?
All of us were once very far off and dying from lack of water, and yet, Jesus offered us His branches and fused us into His story in order that we might have life everlasting. We love because He first loved us.
Spread your roots.
Share the story.
HeathTags: Bible, christianity, evangelism, everlasting, gospel, heaven, Jesus, life, redwoods, roots, share, story