At the bottom of my garden there’s the most wonderful weeping willow, and at this time of the spring equinox, its sprouting leaves are a lime green. As the cool east wind blows, the boughs respond; they curtsy, sway and bob. Scintillating sunlight reflects from this shimmering vision. The tree is vibrant, full of *life. Hidden beneath its weathered bark, and within the channels of its trunk, life-giving sap syphons upward from well-spread roots, to the graceful fingertips of this alluring creature.
I remember planting this willow as a sapling. Over the years it has grown, and mushroomed; not unlike the figurative mustard tree (Luke 13:18, 19) spoken of by Jesus, in which the ‘birds of the air’ nested. Collar doves have made it their home. They love perching on its highest branches from where they can survey their patch of lawns, borders, shrubs, and a cosy arbour entwined with trailing honeysuckle, yet to blossom. Squirrels, robins, great tits, and a nocturnal badger share this space. Thriving, colourful, herbaceous plants display their beauty. Primroses, polyanthus, daffodils and tulips offer their fragrant scent to a solitary buzzing bee. Their leaves absorb the sun’s rays for energy and delight in its warmth. At sunset, they furl their petals to protect themselves from the starry night’s sharp frost.
God’s life-giving power is plainly seen in every one of His creatures. Even the daises display His beauty – and, just hear the cheerful, chattering notes of our resident robin, as he valiantly defends his territory. Don’t tell me there is no God!
‘For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:20, 21).’
All Growth Comes from God
All growth comes from God (cf. Psalm 65:10), because He gives life (John 6:63) to every living thing, and where there is life there is growth. However, here’s what Paul wrote to the Ephesian **church:
‘…. we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:14-16).’
The ‘body’ is the church – itself a spiritual organism, composed of ‘living stones’.
Peter, addressing the churches of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia encouraged them with these words:
‘Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil, speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy ***priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:1-5).’
From the writings of these two apostles we learn that the church is a ‘body’ composed of ‘living stones’. Its members are united in Christ, and they work together as one in Him. They feed ‘upon the pure milk of the word,’ which nourishes them, and they ‘live’ by it (Matthew 4:4). Jesus gives them His ‘living water’ (John 4:10-13) upon which they feed, and grow. They are built together in the love of Christ, who is their Head (Ephesians 5:23).
They are a ‘spiritual house’, a ‘holy priesthood’ who offer ‘spiritual sacrifices’ to ‘God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).’
“Thanks be to God for all who are called to be saints; for those who ‘call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:2).’”
**Who are the Church?
***Priests of God Today