Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 3:10 (NRSV)
A few years ago I helped someone remove a dead, nine foot tall evergreen tree. It was beyond any probability of resurrection. Before a new, thriving tree could be planted in its place, the dead one had to be removed. The dead tree couldn’t be trimmed and it couldn’t be cut off at the soil. For a new tree to be planted, the roots had to be removed, too, so that there would be room for the new one to grow. The amazing thing was that even with more than half the root ball exposed, my little Toyota RAV4 couldn’t pull it out. However, once the roots had been cut and the root ball was about eighty percent exposed, the tree finally let go of its grip on the soil. Even though the tree was entirely dead, its roots ran deep and it was not a simple matter of pulling it out. It took a lot of time and a lot of labor.
Sometimes we realize some part of our lives or workplace is dead or no longer working and we want something new take root. If we want to make fundamental changes when we are not bearing fruit, what is old and outmoded has to be removed by the roots. This involves habits, thought processes, ways of interacting. It may seem harsh to talk about putting the ax to the base of the tree. It is harsher still to prop up an old, outmoded system and harbor false hope that it is going to eventually work.
Have you ever seen the movie, “Weekend at Bernie’s” with the two guys propping up a dead guy all weekend to make it look like he’s still alive? If you feel like you’re doing that with some aspect of your life, the good news is that the Light of Christ brings the ax to the root of the tree. We can’t make superficial adjustments to things in our lives without removing the old roots and expect to see the results we want. Dig down deep. Make a hole for the new thing you want to grow in your life and the entire universe will conspire to fill it with new growth.
Stephen Covey wrote in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.”
Deepak Chopra once said, “The symbolic language of the crucifixion is the death of the old paradigm; resurrection is a leap into a whole new way of thinking.”
Mark Mills, Chaplain / Director of Spirituality