My wife, Jill, and I enjoy taking walks together. One beautiful day as we were walking, we were admiring the trees that lined the sidewalk. They were smaller trees, probably planted only a few years prior. From what we could tell, they looked healthy and seemed to really be coming into their own.
So we were stunned when, on another walk a few days later, we stepped onto the same sidewalk and found the trees had been cut down. All that remained was a series of stumps. It didn’t make sense. Who would cut down perfectly good trees?
Imagine our surprise when, returning to this same sidewalk on our next walk, we found that someone had taken tops from other trees and attached them to the stumps. What in the world was going on? On closer inspection, we noticed that the two trees were intentionally and carefully joined together with wire and what looked like gauze and salve. That’s when the light went on: these trees were being grafted together!
Grafting is a process where one tree is selected for its root system and another is selected for its stems, leaves, flowers, or fruit. Each tree is grown until it is sufficiently established. The tree with the desired root system has its top cut off and removed. The desired treetop is also cut and placed on the stump of the first tree. The trees are grown together to form one tree by securing the contact area with materials that stabilize and promote growth.
Some time later I read 2 Corinthians 5:17 in the Amplified Bible. It says, "Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!"
The word "ingrafted" immediately reminded me of those grafted trees and I started thinking about how each of us are similar to trees. Metaphorically, each of us has a root system from which we draw, a life which flows through us, and a way we display that life through foliage and fruit.
We’re sickly trees when we arrive on planet earth because our root system is derived from (what the verse above calls) an old moral and spiritual condition. This condition is inherited from and can be traced all the way back to Adam and the fall. Death, sin, and condemnation are some of the elements that make up this root system. And without good roots, we can’t produce good leaves and fruit.
Everything changes when we place our faith in Christ because a grafting transpires. Through our death with Christ, we’re cut from our root system linking us to Adam. We’re then placed onto the stump of Christ, joined to Him, and made to grow together with Him.
Joined to Him, we now have a completely fresh and new root system from which to draw. His life, freedom, acceptance, love, holiness, and righteousness are available to us through our attachment to Him. Drawing from Him, our foliage and fruit (i.e. our natural gifts) now become vibrant, full of life, and a blessing to others—not because of some act on our part, but because of His life that is flowing through us.
Spiritual grafting goes far beyond natural grafting. It allows the tree (us) to produce a whole new fruit: the fruit of the Spirit, which we could never produce previously. We would consider it a miracle if we grafted an apple tree to a another root system and it started producing pears as well. But that’s what happens when we’re grafted into Christ. It’s amazing! And I hope it causes you to pause and then be moved to worship.
If there is any way I can encourage you in your journey, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, the ELM web site (elmco.org) is always a good resource to find opportunities for further learning.
Be rooted firmly and deeply in Him! (Colossians 2:7 AMP)
Mike Roncaglia, Executive Director