A few days ago, I posted about the problem with statistics and the 47% of Americans who have gone crazy over 47%. This afternoon, as I sit watching the first dry leaves of fall flutter from the treetops, I think of a different analogy.
For those of you who don’t like politics, I propose that the Bible is a forest, made up of trees – some immense and deep, some short and plain, some with bitter bark, some with sweet syrup. Every tree contains a message ultimately contributes to the forest as a whole. The name of the woods, the theme of this forest is Love. When entering the forest it is common for men to get obsessed with the trees – with a verse that says this or that. After all, it is a holy wood. And verses in this sacred wood must be respected and revered. Every now and then, men worship the trees, forgetting there is a maker who made the trees – that the point of the trees, of the forest as a whole is to bring glory to him, not the trees.
Still, we have arguments about the trees. What they mean, how old they are. How many of them they are. Why they are in one place and not another. They take samples of the bark to study their patterns. They collect the leaves. Sometimes they even cut them down and examine the trunk to see how old they are. They build their entire belief system on one tree.
Now these trees are sacred. They do belong to a holy wood. But when we get obsessed with a verse here or there, we lose sight of the actual forest. When we use them to exclude or judge others inappropriately, when we create division because of one tree among thousands we are in danger of being one of the tragic few who worship the wood instead of the wood’s creator.
They are, in fact, missing the forest for the trees.