Fishlake National Forest in Utah is the home of the largest organism in the world. This organism, thousands of years old, is named Pando, Latin for “I spread,” is a massive grove of aspen trees. Aspen trees are not like oak or maple trees growing in your back yard. One aspen tree is only a small part of a larger organism. How so? Each of the approximately 47,000 or so trees in the grove is genetically identical and all the trees share a single root system. That’s right. This particular life form, or organism, looks like a grove of many trees but, in fact, is one organism with many tree-like sprouts.
In a similar way, spiritual not physical, Christians are part of a living organism called the church which is the body and bride of Christ. Different than a grove of aspens, we have distinct physical DNA, but our spiritual markers are all the exact same. How do I know? Well, read the following:
EPH 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
GA 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
JN 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Even though each of us are seen as distinct physically and by personality, we are all one in Christ. All humans share the image of God, but Christians distinctly share the same faith, hope, salvation, baptism, Lord, Spirit and Father. In fact, our identity is in Christ alone. For that matter, we are heirs of the same promise made to Abraham and therefore, sons and daughters of God by faith. Even more, our unity as a church is modeled after the unity of the triune Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and a testimony of God’s love and redemptive work through His Son, Jesus. Some Christians may declare their independence and try to live independently from the grove (church) but they are, in fact, interdependent.
If that’s not enough, our spiritual markers also include an identical mission. We call it the Great Commission.
MT 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
As an aspen grove grows and is sustained through the root system, so does the church. Please notice, Jesus tells his disciples (followers) to make disciples. In case you missed it, He told his disciples to reproduce. As we do, each disciple is established by a common spiritual root system, the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10), none other than Jesus the promised Messiah. As we reproduce, we share the gospel and as a person commits to becoming a disciple through faith in Christ, we baptize them as a symbol of their identity with Christ and we teach them to be obedient to the commands of Christ.
The aspen grove and the church have commonality in certain aspects. The church is a spiritual life form, or organism, even though it appears to be a group of many distinct individuals, in fact, it is one organism with many sprouts (disciples of Jesus). The church is made up of countless disciples who all have a common identity in Christ. You might say, every disciple of Jesus Christ is a small interdependent part of a larger organism, the church. Moreover, just like the Aspen Grove in Utah named Pando, meaning “I spread,” the church has a mission, the Great Commission, which is “make disciples.”
- Is your identity in your ability and reputation or in Christ?
- Are you reproducing disciples who have the same spiritual markers described in Scripture?
- Are you functioning as an interdependent disciple who is sustained by the common root, Jesus Christ?
- Do you see yourself as one with the church and one in Christ?
- Are you eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace as a testimony of the love and redemptive work of Christ?
A Work in Progress,