Stay Woke: Plant a Tree
Nov 19, 2017 - Rev. Phil Dieke
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Phil told the story of a friend’s father who takes clippings of beautiful trees by the roadside that catch his eye as he drives an 18-wheeler. He plants them all over the place – on their own property, on neighboring lots, in pots, and even in the woods. He gave his daughter a potted tree for them to plant when they were able to buy their own home. When he sees beauty in nature, his response is to plant and cultivate it elsewhere.
In 1 Thessalonians, the people to whom Paul wrote were concerned about the return of Jesus and what would happen to people who passed away before he came back – their time was one of uncertainty, lack of security, and anxiety. Paul wrote to them about hope in Jesus Christ because they are destined for salvation.
Sometimes, we feel these same anxieties and we wish that Jesus would simply come back and we could escape this world. There are certainly times when we need to escape the troubles of our life, but there are other times when our desire to escape is rooted in selfishness.
Paul warns that the “darkness” in which we currently live, waiting for God’s perfect will to be realized, is the time when people usually fall asleep. However, he warns the people not to fall asleep – to stay woke. We should stay alert and diligent as we wait – not just prepared for or immune from external forces, but diligent as a way of life that embraces God’s Spirit in the world that overcomes evil.
Like the friend’s father who plants trees for their beauty, Martin Luther once said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” This is a diligent life for the Kingdom of God, staying awake to the goodness, justice, and beauty that God desires for us. What beautiful thing will you plant today?