Leaves and the Design of God for His Children

It was a Saturday morning.  November.  Autumn.  The air was cool and crisp.  The trees were growing thin according to God’s sovereign allotment.  I had decided to take a jog, stretch my legs a bit.  As I, with heavy legs, plodded along my usual path, I took notice of one particular tree.  While the ground was beautifully colored with leaves brown, orange, red, yellow, this tree held on to its lemon colored wings.  And, then, a few of these leaves, one at a time, slowly floated to earth to take its place among the rest.  And I found myself thinking of the beauty of that one leaf – not only its amazing brightness, but the way that it fell, how it rocked back and forth until it softly landed upon my way, and theologically, how God in His meticulous providence knew that leaf, its color, its flight pattern, its final resting place among the other thousands that He knew with identical perfection.  But avoiding (for now) the urge to speak of God’s immense omniscience and wonderful providence in things much more valuable than a single leaf, I will continue on my jog –

After watching that leaf reach its destination, my eyes were caught back up to the fullness of this tree itself, and the hundreds of leaves that yet remained in harmony, blowing with soft unison in that autumn breeze.  And there, I began to think: while the singular leaf was particularly beautiful, the body of leaves, comprised of a multitude of such leaves, was significantly more beautiful.  And there I was reminded of the individual Christian and the church of the living God.  Now you might ask, to what end and how so?  And I would be quick to qualify such a comparison – that I am not saying, like it is somewhat fashionable to do, that one can find God in nature and that they then have no need for the church; rather, I am saying quite the contrary.  Do not mistake my words.  For God has revealed Himself in two ways: generally and especially, that is, by general revelation and special revelation.  Leaves fit into that category of general revelation, whereby it is to be understood that there is a God who created such things as a display of His existence and glorious nature.  One is not made a Christian by this kind of revelation, but rather by that other kind – special revelation, that is, what God has revealed in the Bible about Himself and all in relation to Him, the center of which is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is by believing the Gospel, trusting in the saving person and work of Jesus Christ that one is made a Christian by God.  And once this has happened, then general revelation – like the leaves in this instance – tends to and should lead the regenerated heart and mind to consider what God has revealed in the Bible.  And so, we come to what I was reminded of by the multitude of leaves in harmony –

That while God saves individuals, and preserves individual personalities, and makes use of such individual distinctiveness, He intends that individual Christians live out their lives within the greater fellowship of the body of Christ, or the local church.  And while the individual Christian should be marveled at as a work of God’s free grace, so the church, comprised of these regenerate miracles, is significantly more beautiful when functioning biblically, in harmony one with another.  We were not saved to be individualistic.  We were not saved to be lone wolves.  We were not saved to drift off into some sort of contemporary monasticsm in the desert for private contemplation.  We were saved to be communal.  We were saved for fellowship with one another.  We were saved to congregate and worship and disciple and study and pray together.  We were saved to be the family of God who delight to proclaim together the excellencies of Jesus Christ.  One verse will have to suffice for these things: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim that excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9.  And let us not forget that the letters of the apostle Paul are written to the church, to the body of Christians.  And so I was reminded on this jog of the indispensable value of the local church, and the amazing potential that the multitude has to display the glory of God in this world (surpassing the potential of one individual believer). 

Let us, then, seek out our brothers and sisters.  Let us seek the Lord, that He might reveal to us where we have tended to be individualistic in our Christianity; and then, let us seek that balm, the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He might cleanse us of such a tendency; let us be purified by the Holy Spirit’s fire, that the pride which deceptively keeps us from wholehearted community with one another be burned away, that we might recognize and embrace God’s design for His children – treasuring and glorifying God together.  And a note to caution us, that the leaf which alone was plucked, fell to the ground alone, there to die.  Let us take heed from the fullness of those autumn trees – that the whole, living in harmony together, far surpasses in beauty the one that loves its separation.

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