Don’t Be a Spiritual Shrub
This past Sunday, we continued our series “The Great Politician” by wrestling with where we truly place our trust in this life. Though we believe it’s incredibly important to vote for the candidate you think will best represent us, we want to remind all of us...that is all that person can do. They are a representative. They are not a Savior. Truly, there is not now, nor will there ever be, a Savior in the White House.
To summarize Sunday’s conversation, we used one phrase: Be a Tree, not a Shrub. This is all about rootedness. Spiritual trees are rooted in faith, but spiritual shrubs are rooted in fear. Faith in God in all circumstances is what will sustain us long term. But far too often, we are a lot more like spiritual shrubs...rooted in fear rather than in faith. When things are good, everything is fine. But things are not good right now. And for so many Christians, our faith has gone into survival mode. It has shriveled up a bit in light of the current conditions, because fear can never feed us the way being rooted in our faith can.
This picture of a shrub in the desert in scripture likely refers to a specific shrub, known as the Arar (in Hebrew), which sounds similar to the Hebrew word for cursed (Arur) and is part of a wordplay in this passage. Apparently this tree is often called “The Cursed Lemon” because it grows in the desert salt lands that surround the Dead Sea where Sodom and Gomorrah (two biblical cities that were destroyed by God) used to be. According to legend, when God destroyed Sodom, he cursed the fruit of this tree. When you open the fruit of this tree, it literally makes a “pssst” sound, and is hollow and filled with webs, dust and a dry pit.
But here’s what’s most interesting...on the outside, the shrub looks healthy. The outside projects a health that the fruit doesn’t live up to.
So what does that mean to us? So many things. It means it truly matters where you are rooted. It means our faith is truly tested in the dry times and not when things are good. It means you can look the part on the outside, but your soul can only be as healthy as the soil it’s planted in. It means it matters where you’re planted.
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT)
Be a tree, not a shrub.