The Lone Cypress

Written by Carl Greene

January 24, 2024

There is a Lone Cypress Tree rooted in the craggy rocks overlooking Carmel Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The tree has held on for over 250 years, defying storms, wind, rain, and even an arsonist. The iconic Cypress is probably the most photographed tree in the world.[1] But for the wrong reasons.

The scene is full of beauty – crashing waves, a living tree amidst a bleak rocky landscape, mountains in the backdrop . . . But let’s be honest. What we love about the scene is the sense that this is one tough tree. It has stood the test of time. On its own. It has handled the storms. Alone.

That is great for a tree. Not for people.

I am not convinced that people are meant to prove how strong they are by how they weather the storms of life completely on their own. As far as I can tell, Scripture reminds us again and again about how we have been created for community. The church is more than an extra credit option for believers. It is the community that we have been designed to thrive in. Church is where we uniquely bring God glory and enjoy living in His presence. Together by design.

Rather than futilely trying to prove our rugged independence, may we embrace dependence on one another. May we see the beauty of our churches as places to thrive and not simply as non-profit organizations that get good tasks done.

As a part of that celebration of being together, I hope that we ask a critical question. “Who’s missing?”[2] Community is intentional—it is not just the avoidance of being alone. Community is about seeking out the people that God has called to live in community with one another. Our passion should be seeking out those who are currently missing from our churches.

Who in my community is missing from my church? I hope that we are ready for Holy Spirit nudges to be inviting over the days ahead.

Father, may we know Your manifest presence with us on our journey, which all too often we pridefully make a journey without our sisters and brothers in Christ. Please reveal to us who You have placed on this journey with us, and may we be broken free from pride-filled independence. May our churches be safe places of true community that call us from futile struggles on our own into Your presence, in community with brothers and sisters that You have called together, for Your glory.

[1] Your Guide to 17-Mile Drive. 2023. Pebble Beach Resorts.

[2] Hardwick, Lamar. 2021. Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion. Downers Grove, IL: IVP. 27.

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