Psalm 52, Colossians 1:3–14, 2 Peter 1:3–15 (read online ⧉)
“But I am like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God…” Psalm 52:8 (CSB)
Being and becoming a flourishing olive tree should be our goal. We, of course, are not trees. We are, however, treasured creations of God that God helps to nurture into Christ-like human beings. There is that tension, though, about what God to us. The Wesleyan tradition holds that God does not force us, yet without the Holy Spirit working in us, we are doomed to be the same. How it works is a mystery. The theologians of many traditions (not just the Wesleyan) continue to robustly discuss this. This is not bad. It is often distracting though.
…quests for water
…strains against the wind, and grows stronger.
…reaches for the sun.
It seems obvious what the house of God is. It’s church. Except that is an incomplete understanding. We often think of house as a building. בַּיִת [bayith /bah·yith/] is also used to describe household, home, family, within, descendants. What if instead of “flourishing in the house of God” we were to read it as “flourishing in the family of God?” If we were to do so, that would mean praying together, life groups, worship, and other related activities that we do together are covered, as long as that draws us closer to God.
Water is always life (especially from a wilderness and livestock point of view). With Jesus referring to himself as the Water of Life it takes on an important change, and it is one that we should take very seriously. Pursuing the Water of Life means that we follow Jesus, and do our best to cast off the world to become more like Jesus, and less like the world. Pursuing the Living Water (another title) would also cover reading the Scriptures and praying.
The wind aspect is a little different. The wind is both the world trying to knock us down and the Holy Spirit. We couldn’t escape some tension here. That would be too easy. The storms (the wind) of the world seek to uproot us from the solid ground that is God. The Holy Spirit pushes and shapes us to be stronger so that we can stand firmer against the world.
Reaching for the sun would seem to be automatically related to the Son, yet the sun provides warmth (like love) and nourishment (trees need the sun to breathe and produce energy). The sun and its attributes can be found in things like families and friends.
Lastly, though, the tree produces fruit which can take many forms (the list is far too long).
All of this falls under the huge umbrella of spiritual growth. The two passages from Paul’s letter to the Colossians and the second letter Peter are deeply concerned about spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is not optional. In fact, to be a Christ-follower, we are (by definition) seeking to spiritually grow to be closer and closer to Christ. If you are not pursuing spiritual growth the question of being a Christ-followers rears its head.
1) Looking at the list in Colossians 1:9–12 of spiritual growth, what pops out for you? Which area are you growing in? Which one are you weakest in?
2) 2 Peter 1:5–7 is a list often used as a list of spiritual fruit. Where do you fall within the list? Do you think the list is exhaustive? Why do you think Peter ties the “fruit” together?
3) How important do you view your spiritual growth? How about the spiritual growth of others? Why is that your view?