If you assumed the role of an artist and painted the revived Christian life as a tree, what would it look like?
I believe the Spirit of the Lord did this very thing through Isaiah. His words became brush strokes, prophetically describing how Jesus would come to plant oaks of righteousness that would bring glory to God (Isaiah 61:3).
So what does a revived life look like? From Isaiah 61, such a life is one that can speak confidently of a time when God chose to plant him or her in His eternal kingdom.
One’s birth into God’s forever family is not a matter solely of one’s own choosing. Even as John says, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
If it were simply a matter of man’s choice alone, there would always remain an element of doubt as to whether a relationship with the Master Gardener had truly begun.
Confident faith in God’s call to salvation, however, will always mark a revived life, for in that calling there is strong assurance that God indeed planted the tree. The revived heart shouts, “Yes, my relationship with the Master Gardener is secure, for He planted me, sustains me, and calls me His very own.”
Isaiah paints a second characteristic of a revived life when he describes the oak as one that displays the righteousness of God.
Growing up in central Texas, I quickly realized that there are a multitude of differing oaks. Many are deciduous, losing their leaves in fall and winter. Others are evergreens. Their leaves remain until new ones push off the old.
In describing today’s church membership, an artist would have to paint a variety of oaks as well as other types of trees. Some church members are lost but think they are righteous because of their works.
Others have left their first love of Jesus and are walking outside the boundaries of a healthy love relationship. Others are genuine believers yet moving very slowly through the process of healthy spiritual growth.
I think one of the best ways to describe a genuine oak of righteousness is found in Psalm 1. A righteous follower of Christ is one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the path of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers.
This believer loves spending time with God while meditating on His Word. This one’s life is firmly rooted in and influenced by the abiding presence of the Spirit of Christ within his or her life. This follower of Christ yields godly fruit, whose leaf does not wither, and whose spiritual ways are always prosperous.
Lastly, Isaiah sees a revived life as one that will always bring glory to God. Laying down selfish ambition and pride, an oak of righteousness will always point others to the wonderful person and ways of God.
If your spiritual life were to be portrayed as a tree, how would the artist paint it? How would God paint it?
As the final viewing of the church draws near, may we encourage one another to humbly walk in the righteousness that flows out of Jesus Christ’s abiding presence in our lives!