This morning as I climbed the hill on our property in Western Australia I moved a dead tree branch off the track and noticed that the branch comprised two parts. The first was the part of the branch that was from the original tree – an acacia called a ‘Jam Wattle’. Attached to it - actually grafted into it - was the complex bundle of branches from a parasitic plant that had probably contributed to the death of the host tree. As I looked around the various trees on the hillside, I observed several jam wattle trees with these parasite plants growing on them. The amazing thing is that the parasite looks beautiful. It has orange blossoms which attracts the birds and the bees to their nectar. From a distance these plants look like a natural part of the tree. However, they are not. They ‘speak’ of belonging, and showing forth amazing fruit, but they are parasitic.
The parasite does not have any roots. It doesn’t draw its sustenance for itself directly from the soil. It rides on the back of the host tree, which does have a ‘relationship’ with the soil. The host is rooted in the earth – the parasite is rooted in the host, but appears to be part of that host. Over time the heavy growth of the parasite becomes such a drain on the host tree that it eventually kills it.
Now I believe that there are many who are in the church, or Christian mission organisations, who are like this. We can say ‘Lord, Lord’ and do amazing things in His name. We may preach amazing sermons, heal the sick, cast out demons, and prophesy. But we may not have an authentic relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We may produce fruit from borrowed (stolen?) nutrients – yet have no roots of relationship directly in Christ Jesus who is the Lord of all.
I’m not saying it is wrong to be grafted into the tree. In fact in Christ we are grafted into the root stock of Israel (Romans 11:17); we are the branches of the true vine (John 15:5). The difference with the parasite branch is that it doesn’t have a direct relationship with the source of life. In our passage above Jesus says “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23).
Here is a question I had to ask myself – ‘Am I grafted into Jesus, drawing life and purpose and an understanding of God’s will directly from Him; or am I grafted into some concept of church or ministry, feeding from that and remaining unknown to Jesus?’
The good news is that God is near to each of us. Through Jesus we can have a life-giving and life-sustaining relationship with our Heavenly Father. Come to Him afresh to receive all the nutrients you need – directly from the Source.
Prayer: Jesus, You are Lord of all. Please show me if in any way I have neglected to come to You as the source of my identity, life, and ministry. I want to draw sustaining nutrients from You directly, and not take them second-hand from others. I only want to produce Your fruit in my life. Would You please help me to do this? Amen.