One of the unique challenges we all have in the midst of the quarantine is: how do we release our faith on the people around us?
After all, the social distancing laws have severely limited our ability to touch and interact with other lives. Yet I still get e-mails, texts, and phone calls from people asking if I have any opportunities for them to serve others (which reveals the beautiful nature of our congregation).
Theologian Kristen Deede Johnson suggests followers of Jesus should be like trees. Trees are quietly there in the midst of other living things. They provide beauty, shade, fruit, and habitats for wildlife. They contribute to the world’s common good.
Most spectacularly, they breathe in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. CO2, for most animals, is a toxic gas, while O2 is essential for their survival. Trees, in other words, provide a gift. It’s not for their own benefit, but for the sustenance of the world’s ecosystems.
Johnson asks, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if that were our reputation?” That just our normal everyday “being” as a follower of Jesus would result in whoever crosses our path would receive a blessing for their common good?
That might mean seeking justice, feeding the hungry, teaching the children, and healing the sick, because we bring the presence of Jesus to every interaction…as I like to pray, “ When people bump into us may they bump into You Lord.”
Johnson notes trees show up at several key junctures in the Bible. In Psalm 1:3, the person who walks with God “is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” And Revelation 22:3, looking ahead to God’s new heavens and new earth, affirms that “the leaves of the trees will be for the healing of the nations.”
As April turns to May this week, and trees continue their springtime explosions of flowers and leaves, think what it might mean to be a tree for God’s sake. Just be there, wherever you are currently planted, allowing God to use our presence to bless all those who are nearby.