The Disciple and the Tree

In response to those in the church who say the primary purpose of any disciple is to make more disciples, I have this to say:

Jesus called the church to make disciples.
Jesus did not call the church to make disciplers.

Being a discipler is totally part of being a disciple,
But there is more to a tree than the seed which bears it;
Or the seed in the fruit on the branch which stretches out
With the leaves that take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen
Shading the bark shielding the hart and the sap drawn up from the ground
Through the roots which stand the tree upright toward the heavens.

In the same way there is more to a disciple than the new convert;
Or drawing people to the gospel by the love of Christ
Which comes from humble submission to God in working as He does
Offering strength and rest to those in need, preserving the value of life in truth
Being grounded in a world from which we are inseparable, being dust
Standing upright before God for the good of all men.

There is more to being a disciple than being a discipler
Just as there is more to being a tree than a bearer of seeds.

The church must remember the tree out of which is made the cross they are called to carry.
The church must remember what it means to be fully human.
Only then will she ever properly represent the fully human Jesus Christ.

Who is the Second Adam.

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The Parable of the Willow Tree

” . . . All you need to do is be a tree like I am,” the Old Oak said to the Wandering Willow who had pulled up her roots like feet and had left home in search of the world beyond her sight. She would set her roots down when she started to wither, but she had forgotten what type of tree she was, because she never stayed rooted long enough to bear any fruit. In desperate anxiety, she had returned home to find out who she was from her wise friend the Old Oak. He had said to her, “Why, you were the Well-watered Willow before you started to wander, but if you really want to know who you are, there’s only one way. . .”

Two Woodcarvers: A Fairy Tale

Once there were two woodcarvers who lived in a magical forest. In this magical forest, the trees were of a very special kind of wood: when they were crafted correctly, they came to life, with the exact characteristics of the woodcarver who made them. Now, one woodcarver was a very careless woodcarver, and he found a patch of many trees, and he chopped them all down, and he dragged the tallest one away through the bushes, thorns, and briars; and by the time he had gotten his timber to his house, the log had been scratched, battered, and bruised. He split the logs, and set about to make his carving: a little puppet designed after himself. He cut out the torso, the limbs, the head, and he sanded out all the rough places, and set it up in his shop on a stage. The doll came to life, and stood on its feet. But the dummy did not take long before he too had an ax in his wooden hand, and started hacking away carelessly at every wooden thing in sight like the table and then the chair! The woodcarver grew very angry and hated his creation the more he destroyed everything he made. Finally, this woodcarver took his creation, and thrust him into the fire, where the doll shriveled up and became embers. He looked around and saw nothing but destruction and he was very unhappy.

The other woodcarver was not like this one. He walked through the forest eye-ing each tree. He took his time, and picked not the tallest, nor the stoutest, but the one that would be the most suitable. He finally found it, and took great care as his ax struck the tree near the ground—being very careful not to harm any of the other living things around him. Once he had felled the tree, he looked at it with eyes full of care, and lay down a blanket, and wrapped the wood around in it, so it wouldn’t be harmed by the bushes, thorns, and briars. Carefully, and painstakingly, he brought it back to his shop, where he set it up, and began his carving: a doll designed after himself. He split the logs, he cut out the torso, the limbs, the head, and he sanded out all the rough places, and set up his creation on the stage. Just as before, the doll came to life and stood on its feet. But did this dummy take an ax and start destroying everything in sight? No. Instead, he stared at his maker with wooden eyes full of care, and he took the blanket his master had wrapped him in, and wrapped it around his maker’s shoulders. And the woodcarver loved his creation, and they worked together to make more of them. And the maker was very happy.

The Branch

The Branch
By Luke Ferguson
Written July 18, 2007

Deep in a forest there stood a great tree
With roots down deep in the earth of green;
And out of the tree grew branches with leaves
Each branch had a purpose apart from the tree.

The longer the branch stayed on the deep-rooted tree
The greener it got and the stronger it seemed.
As thicker, and longer, and stronger it grew
The branch had a purpose, its deep heart knew.

One day to this tree a woodsman came
Seeking some wood to light his flame:
Branches thick, and long, and strong
Whose purpose was to him to belong.

He sought the wood, and saw the branch
On the tree deeply rooted in green.
With ax in hand, he did not blanch.
And separated wood form life of tree.

“A fire log, full of sap.
Hard to ignite, but slow to burn.”
Off he walked with the wood on his back.
To the tree the log would not return.

The tree kept growing, making more.
The woodsman lit the fires of war.
The chosen branch fulfilled his life
And ended consumed in glorious light.