"I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it" John 17:14-16.
It was a crisp, south Florida, Saturday morning, a perfect day to ride my bicycle. I grabbed my camera and took off. The ride to the ocean was spectacular. The clear, blue sky, every blade of grass, every stone, every leaf and ocean wave cried out, "Praise the Lord, let all creation, praise the Lord!"
I snapped several pictures at the inlet; amazed at God's handiwork. Even though I've been there dozens of times before, this day was particularly dazzling.
I continued my ride, pushing hard on the peddles—faster, faster, breathing in, exhaling slowly; I was awestruck at every turn. Then I saw it—The Tree. I almost missed it. I jumped off my bike, focused my camera lens and snapped. The bare, driftwood-colored branches, contrasted against the lush, green foliage and brilliant-blue sky were stunning, but the tree was dead! How can something that beautiful be dead? (Eventually, however, that magnificent dead tree will return to dust, and only the live foliage will remain.)
It occurred to me that this is a picture of the dilemma faced by Christians, who are, as Jesus reminds us in today's Scripture, in the world, but not of the world. Christians—the lush, green, life-holding children of God—live among people who are dead in their sins. They may be stunningly beautiful—outwardly and inwardly—but spiritually dead nonetheless.
Children of God—living in the midst of the dead—are to hold out the Word of life. The dead ones need The Tree that gives life, whose branches were bare until our Savior, Jesus, was nailed to it. Jesus' death and resurrection brings life; apart from him there is no hope of eternal life with God.
Have you come to the cross, that Life-giving Tree? Are you holding out the Word of life to others or are you missing opportunities? Because underneath the outward beauty of those you encounter, they may be dead in their sins, without hope of the resurrection!
"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have
life" (1 John 5:12).
Dear Lord, open my eyes to see those who need you. Help me to hold out the Word of life to others. Amen.
Copyright 2011 S.A. Keith - SundaySchoolNetwork.com
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