My Navigator teammate John Purvis has developed a picture of disciples and the process of making disciples using the anatomy of a tree. I don’t remember all the fine points, but I do remember that the core of a tree is called the “heartwood”–it’s the most beautiful part for woodworkers, he told us. Being the oldest and densest part of the trunk, it provides the tree’s stability…unless it’s not there.
My brother-in-law posted this story and picture on Facebook:
Saturday, at 2:30 in the morning, wind driven rain followed by a loud explosion and a tremendous thud that shook the entire house, then dead silence and utter darkness, no lights, no hum of air conditioners, no nothing. Turns out that a neighbor’s massive oak fell across the road and took down the power lines, snapped off the pole they were attached to, causing the transformer to blow, and damaged a house on the other side of the street. As the photo shows, the tree was diseased and the core was gone.
I’m sure the tree looked great from the outside right until the time it fell.
This could be a picture of someone’s life…or a church. If we don’t attend to the basics (Paul wrote, “Train yourself for godliness,” in 1 Timothy 4.7), we can rot from the inside. And, to change the metaphor, it will be like the house with no foundation in Jesus’ story of the wise and foolish builder in Matthew 7.24 – 27: “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
The difference? “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them…” We have churches filled with people who come, and even if they listen to the sermon, if they don’t put it into practice, they are like the house with no foundation, the tree with no core.