The Tree

Mitch Cariaga

"They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator, who is forever praised.  Amen."  Romans 1:25 

A while back during a trip to China, over a weekend, I went with friends on a trip.  There were about 10 of us that went along.  After a 5 hour bus ride, we took a boat down a long river to visit a famous tree.  After about one hour, my friends said that we were almost to our destination.  But even before we arrived, I began to see a very large tree in the distance.  The tree stood all alone on a small hill.  The tree really was amazing.  It was beautiful.  My friends said that it was considered by many to be a holy tree.

After we left the boat and approached the tree, I noticed that by the tree there were large decorated sticks lying next to a burning fire.  People went over to the large sticks, paid their money, and then lit the end of the sticks.  Carrying their burning sticks, they went over to the tree and began walking around the tree trunk; some were dancing around the tree and many others were bowing before the tree waving their lighted sticks.

I was in shock. I had never seen anything like this.  One of the girls in our group paid her money, lit the stick and walked over to the tree; she began bowing low before the tree.  She did this many times, looking like she was praying to the tree.

When she came back, I told her that it wasn’t right.  I said that we shouldn’t worship the creation, but rather the Creator only.  She said it was her Chinese, Eastern culture.  I was from the West.  I didn’t understand their culture.  I said that it wasn’t culture.  It was Satan trying to convince a person to disregard the true God, the Maker of heaven and earth and make her bow down to something God made.

You say, here in the West we don’t bow down before trees.  You’re right.  At least I have never seen anyone do that.  But we bow down before wooden statues; we bow down before girlfriends and boyfriends; we bow down before our friends and our careers; we bow down before fashion; we bow down before technology, drugs, and alcohol.  We bow down before pleasure; we bow down before the altar of self.

In many ways, the things that we worship are not much different from bowing down before a tree.

And all these created items and people keep us from experiencing the power that is unleashed when we take a knee before the living God, the true God, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Today, I encourage you to open your heart to God.  He’s alive.  He’s powerful.  And when you reach out to Him, He’ll reach back to you.

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