What are we doing here?
Figuratively and literally that is a good question for Evangelical Christians. In October 2012 , for the first time in the history of the United States, the number of Americans who identified themselves as protestants dropped beneath 50%. (48% to be more specific) The reasons for this are many but the corollary is also troubling. The influence of the Evangelicals on politics and social thought is far less than 48%. There are no Protestants on the Supreme Court, there are none in the President’s cabinet. Even if one counts the President as a Protestant, he assuredly is not an Evangelical.
These comments are not meant to denigrate our Christian friends in the Catholic Church. The Catholics have been both vocal and visible. They have contributed much from their rich heritage, organization, laity and leadership in the current political battles with which the Evangelicals have much the same at stake.
However, Evangelicals have for the most part dropped off the radar screen. Evangelicals for the most part have banned any discussion of social issues in the church. Fear of losing their tax exempt status is a major fear but I think it goes beyond that. In many of the churches the modus operandi is, above all else, offend no person. In this hour of the church growth movement, PR is God, and with that PC becomes everything. PC has become a major factor in the new evangelism.
And Why “The Cypress Tree” for our site name?
There are several varieties of the cypress tree. The Mediterranean Cypress often symbolized immortality. Strong and full of resin, it is thought by some scholars to be the gopher wood used by Noah when he built the art.
From God as a Gardener: “Proverbs 12:28 reads: ‘In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.’ Through Noah’s righteousness (Genesis 6: 9), the human race continued on earth, yet Noah’s righteousness and obedience did not guarantee immortality for the human race. Only by accepting the gospel of Christ are men and women guaranteed spirituality immortality (II Timothy 1: 11). Accepting the good news of salvation from Christ is not dependent on our righteousness; rather it is a gift from Christ. This gift came with a cost which Christ paid through His life, death, and resurrection.” (Reprinted from Carolyn in God as a Gardener)
There is strong support that the Cypress tree may have been used in the construction of the temple of Solomon. (Phillip J. King in Life in Biblical Israel p.110) Some scholars believe that the flooring of the temple was cypress wood. The symbolism of that on which we stand is almost self-evident.
The references from Isaiah 55:
8“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
12“For you will go out with joy
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
13“Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,
And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,
And it will be a memorial to the LORD,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”
Last, for our purposes and perhaps with tongue in cheek, is the bald cypress, which grows quite well in American swamps. Many would agree that America in general and Evangelicals in particular are in swamp land.
I like the symbolism evident in these comments on the cypress tree: immortality, something constructed by God for our protection, the flooring on which we stand, the replacement of the curse with the blessing, and that which thrives in a swamp. Each of these is part of our thinking in the creation of The Cypress Tree.