I was driving by Post Falls on the way to Spokane on the freeway today and I saw a forest of trees off in the distance from the crest of the hill, right before the highway 41 exit.
It hit me that all the trees seem to be about the same height out in the distance. One may seem to be slightly taller than the others, but for the most part they are all the same size. Then, I thought to myself, what if these trees were Christians? As I looked closer, some are taller than the others---ever so slightly taller---but taller. From the freeway, in the eyes of some casual commuter, some trees seemed to be just a tiny bit better than others. What if height was a measure of spiritual worth? The taller you are, the better you are in God's eyes? But, I realized, "Wait! No Christian is any better or worse in God's eyes. He loves us all the same. Nothing we do can increase our stature in His eyes. He sees us as having the same height."
After I realized this and remembered that false doctrine says that some Christians are better than others, I again saw that all the trees from the freeway were essentially the same height. My vision had been corrected. If they were Christians, God would have seen a small forest of trees with equal height all along.
Then, almost immediately after, my vision picked up one tree rooted directly next to the freeway. The forest I had originally examined was a good distance away from the freeway, but this tree stood along the road. It was a mammoth compared to the others. It stood in stark contrast to the weak stature of the wannabe redwoods in the background.
What if spiritual worth in God's eyes really was measured by height?
If this lone tree was a Christian, its spiritual worth to the average Friday morning commuter would then indeed appear astounding! Look at how their branches reach out and help the needy. Look at how they are firmly rooted. See how they sway calmly in the breeze! What a person of spiritual strength and worth! God must be impressed.
But, again, God sees one Christian the same height as another.
What the commuter doesn't realize is that the lone tree is just making themselves loud enough to be heard over all the other trees. They are in close proximity so that you can't help but notice what they are doing. They want you to see what height they have truly reached! It's all part of the tree's plan.
But, where do their branches reach when no one is looking? Do they help the needy as well as their image? Are they firmly rooted, but only in the sand of personal opinion, exceptions to God's Word and other false doctrine? And is the breeze felt, actually the coming judgment of God for hypocrisy? They sway now, but will tomorrow bring their fall?
It all comes back to the heart.
Not every Christian that helps the needy is a hypocrite. Just because they try to follow Jesus' example does not mean they are rooted in sand. They could be honestly serving the Lord God with all their heart and soul.
But, when one tree stands above the rest because they move close enough to be perceived as much bigger than the others, one would have to question the validity of their intentions. Has God placed them there to make them more visible for the message He may be speaking through them to the commuter, or have they placed themselves there hoping to catch the commuter's attention?
It all comes back to the heart.
Let us examine what we do and why we do it. Is it for ourselves or those God has called us to serve? Are we called to do what we are doing or is that what we have muscled, cajoled, or smoothed-talked our way into?
Remember, the Bride of Christ is a forest of equal trees; not one stands taller than another in God's eyes.