Sometimes I just don’t have a clear understanding of how life works. Take trees for example. This morning I took a look at a friend’s neighbor’s tree. It is (was) a huge oak tree that was full of green leaves and standing tall and beautiful in a side yard of a beautiful home. It is now down, on the ground, broken off at the ground line. . .and the only action left is to cut it up in pieces for use in a fire place, or just burn it where it is (the City will fine someone, of course). It was not blown down by wind, and didn’t look like it was damaged at all. . .until it fell.
I have some trees in my “side yard” that have been DEAD for months. They are still standing, bare of any living parts. Even the fairly strong winds that have blown through have not managed to knock them over. They appear for all the world to be “OK” except they are obviously dead.
Now, take the Church, for example. I know some Churches that have those kind of problems. Some are still standing even though it is clear that they are “dead” from a spiritual perspective. The Spirit of God no longer moves among them, and the people that gather are cold and disenchanted with spiritual things. Other Churches appear to be alive and reasonably healthy, but one must always be alert to the possibility that something may be going on inside , and they will fall suddenly without warning, or little warning, or a warning leadership refuses to see or hear.
Only God can make a tree (thanks, Joyce Kilmer). And, only God can sustain a Church. I try, in my little forest, to keep a lookout for leaves falling from my trees in the Springtime. I watch for “bugs” and “symptoms” and take, where possible, action to maintain health. I see the Pastor doings the same thing with the little Church I attend. It looks healthy enough. It ought to last a long time. . .but, Churches sometimes suddenly fall. . .Heaven knows someone should have been on the wall, someone should have been applying wise counsel, someone should have “seen it coming.”
Here’s a truth. If you want a healthy forest, hire an arborist.