The Banyan is near the top of my list of “favorites” when it comes to trees. Unlike any other tree I know of, it has the capability of growing far and wide. In fact, the largest Banyan tree in the US covers more than an acre of land! You might think that is impossible until you get a look at these trees. As they grow out, in order to hold the weight of new growth, they send limbs downward, securing and stabilizing the tree in the soil below. It creates a network of mini trunks, so to speak, which is not only visually amazing but growth-promoting.
Typically, when we think of roots, we think of those things which are hidden deep in the soil. They grow and spread, enabling the tree, bush or plant to grow strong, stable and fruitful. Roots are usually not visible, but we can see the results of healthy ones in the flourishing that takes place above the soil. But the Banyan tree tells a different tale, with visible roots for all to behold. As I admired some of these trees in Florida a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t help but think that our Creator’s design for them is a living example of His design for our hearts and lives as we live in community with one another as the body of Christ.
The book of Titus gives us a beautiful picture of what the church should look like. After all, the church is not a building, it’s a people; a diverse group of people at that! Men and women, older and younger, bosses and employees, leaders and servants…we are all different in so many ways, yet united as family through Christ. As we live out Titus 2 and pursue discipleship relationships, I think it is important that, like the Banyan tree, our roots are visible; that our lives are an “open book” when it comes to loving and clinging to Jesus. As we pursue the disciplines of grace, enabled by the Author of grace, we can encourage and help equip those around us to press on towards Christlikeness.
The watching world, our church family, and our children need to see that growth in Christ isn’t something that just magically occurs by our own strength, or that it is for a special few on whom the Lord has placed His favor. It’s not a “super-Christian” thing…it’s a supernatural work done through the Holy Spirit and the power of God in the lives of His kids. Our growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord is only possible as we abide in Christ and keep sending down roots in Him. This is not “one and done”, “I said the prayer” kinda living. This is a “daily dependence, denying self, deep-rooted in the soil of His Word” kinda living.
The more we show our roots, even though it may expose us in ways that are humbling and make us feel vulnerable, the more we display the glorious work of God in transforming lives. And we encourage others as they see His mercy and grace that enables them, too, to be “steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord”. Just like the Banyan tree, our roots can testify to the work of the Lord in a way that is visually amazing and growth-promoting in the lives of those around us!
*picture credit: FLORENTINA GEORGESCU PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES