“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:30). What better illustration of this than the Burning Bush from my front yard? Read on and see what I mean…
The Burning Bush begins in the Spring full of green. It even has tiny green flowers!
Do you remember the cycle of chlorophyll from Science class? Chlorophyll uses sunlight to make food for the plant. It breaks down when exposed to sunlight, so when in use it needs to constantly be replaced.
Once the amount of daylight shortens to a certain length in the Fall, deciduous trees and bushes begin preparing to lose their leaves. It would “cost” them more to keep and maintain the leaves than to let them go. They cut off the nutrients to the leaves, and the chlorophyll begins to fade.
When we look at green leaves in the spring and summer, they’re full of chlorophyll! They also contain shades of orange and yellow, but we can’t see those colors because they’re masked by the overwhelming green. Once the chlorophyll breaks down, we can see the background colors emerge.
But these Burning Bush leaves are turning red, not yellow or orange! Where does the red come from? As the chlorophyll breaks down, it continues producing food for the bush. This glucose is trapped in the leaf, and results in the formation of anthocyanin, which creates shades of red and purple.
Check out Loose Leaf-The Official Blog of America Forests for more fall foliage discussion!
Our New Identity
Okay, I’ll bet you’re wondering what all of that has to do with John 3:30, right? As the chlorophyll is fading away, it continues to produce glucose, but that glucose now brightens the bush instead of feeding it. In our Christian lives, our old self should be continuously waning in order to make way for our identity in Christ to be fully visible.
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds” (Colossians 3:5-9).
Our old ways of doing things were useful for our old aspirations and desires, but in Christ we have a new hope!
“Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him” (Colossians 3:10).
Are you allowing your old life to fade away to make room for the new?
The picture below shows two stages in the production of Burning Bush seeds.
The pod on the left looks yummy for a bird to snack on (and “plant” somewhere else), and the shriveled pod on the right has already opened and released its seed. Notice the color of the surrounding leaves?
The seeds aren’t ready for sowing until the leaves have begun changing.
What about our Christian fruit? It also matures as we mature in Christ, becoming more and more like Him. We don’t expect new followers of Christ to have it all together, but we should expect those who’ve known Him for quite some time to exhibit an increasing amount of Christ-like fruitfulness.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).
Where are you on the path to maturity?
The Burning Bush is an invasive species in North America because of how freely its seeds take root in a great variety of conditions, and how it can easily take over and force out other native plants.
The fruit of our Christian lives should be attractive to the world, and we should freely sow the seed we’ve been given. Wouldn’t you like to live among people with the characteristics listed above from Colossians 3:12-15? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more of us practiced these attitudes? As we grow to maturity in Christ, our faith should become evident to all in word and deed, and the hope we live in should shine through our lives. “And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:15).
Let your light invade the darkness around you!
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