A few years back, an invasive species of insects infected some of the trees in my neighbourhood, and they had to be cut down. It’s taken a while, but this past summer, the city finally began to replant trees where the old ones had stood.

The last time my neighbourhood had young trees was about fifteen years ago when the streets were newly built. At the time, I remember thinking that those young trees were baby trees. Now, of course, I know that they are not. Baby trees can’t survive in suburban neighbourhoods because baby trees need the forest.

A forest is for animals to make homes in and store up food for the winter. It’s for various plants and flowers to grow and ebb with the tide of the seasons. But the forest is also for the tree.

Out in the wild of the world, a baby tree can’t grow without the forest. It needs the roots of big trees to hold down the topsoil that will feed it while it’s young. It needs their trunks to take the brunt of the wind while it’s too frail to withstand its molding. The little tree needs the leafy canopy of the big trees to shade it when the heat of the day can do more harm than good.

Much like the forest is made for the tree, God created the church for the people.

We are in the church to uphold one another. The church is here to help those who are new in faith to grow. We’re here to make the Truth accessible to those who want to find it and grow in Him. We’re here to shelter and protect those new in Christ when hard trials come, and they can be easily knocked down and destroyed. 

Trees set apart on their own don’t do as well when a storm comes. Stand-alone trees in housing lots are more likely to break under strong winds or heavy snow because they don’t have the protection of other trees as they would in a forest. The trees of a forest can literally lean on each other in buffeting winds. They share the weight of the wind and snow between each other’s branches. Because of this, they bend but don’t break. It is only the trees that stand too rigid, and have become unable to bend that crumble in the midst of a forest.

The tropical Tabonuco trees stand together on a whole different level. Since they tend to grow in areas that hurricanes frequent, these trees intertwine at the roots to share nutrients and strengthen their anchor in the ground when the storm comes. How much more can the church edify one another and withstand tests and trials if we do the same?

The forest lives because of the light. Sunlight draws plants up out of the ground and onto the surface, where they begin to produce food for themselves. No plant can do this without getting the sunlight that it needs. If trees stand too close together and the canopy is too thick, younger trees aren’t able to produce what they need to grow. Trees need the support of other trees, but above all, they need the light to shine through them.

In the church, it’s the Light that counts. Jesus is that light. Even as we help and uphold others, all of it is for naught if Jesus’ light isn’t shining through us. Without His light, we will ultimately be stunted in our growth. We may be what people physically see, but it is Jesus in us that draws people and guides us to speak life into the hearts of others.

We need each other. But we need Jesus the most.

In 1st Corinthians 3, the Bible likens those who are new in Christ to babes in the spirit that need milk and aren’t yet ready for meat, much like young trees that depend on topsoil and have yet to grow roots deep enough to pull on the richness available further down. In the church, there are also those who have grown beyond the “topsoil” of the Word and continue to pursue Jesus and His truth at deeper levels. 

I encourage you to do the same. Grow your roots deep in His Word and His love. It will be of benefit to both you and those who have yet to come. As we get to know Jesus and develop our relationship with Him, we become able to support each other and the new souls being risen up in Christ. 

The church is for each person, both young and old, in the faith. 

We are meant to help each other grow. Let us do our best to do so as we continue to pursue Him!

May you continue to experience extraordinary in Him!

Antrisha Balakumaran