Sitting in church this past Sunday I was struck by a scripture that was shared during the adult Sunday school lesson. The lesson was on a topic that I have heard preached about numerous times and included extremely familiar passages of scripture. For some reason though, Jeremiah 17:8 hadn’t held the meaning for me in the past that it did this week. Teachings on root systems and bearing fruit are very popular in pentecostal culture. We get excited about songs like ” I shall not be moved….like a tree planted by the water”, although oftentimes we misinterpret what I feel that scripture is telling us when using trees as visual studies. Trees are not just strong, tall objects that stand still. We feel like we have accomplished a lot in our spiritual lives if we just do not budge. Oftentimes we mistake stubbornness as a spiritual virtue. We take the scriptures about not being taken by every wind of doctrine so literally that we shelter ourselves from society and hide ourselves in our church buildings.
A quick search of a Bible concordance yielded 205 scriptures that contain word pictures concerning trees. A deeper investigation of this shows that trees provide useful products. Trees provide shade and shelter. Trees are good for the economy. Trees clean the environment and strengthen local communities. Trees keep the ground stable and the air clean. Do our spiritual lives do these things for our communities? Are we producing fruits? Is our church known for its passion or are we just known for our disciplines and attitudes? Can we truly say that our church has altered the state of the community with the roots it has built, or does the community not even notice us?
Jeremiah 17 has a lot to say about our walk with God.
7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.
8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.KJV
This particular passage spoke to me because at this time in the USA, our country is in a drought. Financially, politically, economically, spiritually, and emotionally, people are dehydrated and searching for answers. The sad thing to me is that our churches have been affected by this drought and instead of changing and altering culture, we have fallen prey to societal shifts in morals and financial principals. Have we forgotten how God provided for Joseph and his family in the 7 years of lean? We get so hyped up on the politics and on the news reports, that we start to follow the principles of man, which have proven to be faulty, and not the principles of God.
In the kingdom of God there are no droughts. While there are seasons in life that leave us feeling dry, thirsty, empty, and longing for more, if our root system is deep in the word of God, the cause of Christ, and changing the culture of those around us, we will not cease from yielding fruit and having positive results in our lives during the worst possible times. Many times we think it is just personality differences that keep one person from crumbling under the weight of the stress of life and allow another person to melt away spiritually and emotionally. However, I would venture to say that personality alone doesn’t separate the conquerors from the defeated. Ask yourself, am I praying and reading the Word like I should be? Am I engaged in gossip and slander, especially against the church leadership? If you aren’t in the Word and you aren’t praying and cultivating that love relationship with Christ, chances are, you are not immune to the drought seasons of life. While the Bible says “the rain falls on the just and the unjust” and followers of Christ do not get a free pass on the sorrows of this world, how deep your roots run in the culture of Christ will separate the defeated and struggling from the powerful and overcoming. Don’t immerse yourself in church culture and secular culture, but follow after the principals of Christ. Church culture has many fallacies and errors and can breed hypocrisy and gossip, while the culture of Christ involves true relationship and passion.
Don’t let the drought season of this country and the drought season of your life be the defining moment of your biography. We know of people who have fallen flat on their face in the midst of trouble, never to recover their character, integrity,and purpose again. Be the person who was not careful and anxious in the time of drought because they had a free flow of the holy ghost water and anointing in their life. Be the person who has pursued after the things of God passionately and continued to yield fruits in their life.