Monday, September 23, 2013

Engrafted and Graffed

A beautiful flower.  That was taken during the summer of last year, in my back yard.  I was playing with the camera in the phone I had at the time.  I was trying to see how close I could get and still capture a clear picture.  I ran across it again as I was looking at some other pictures I took of Baltimore’s celebration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812.  Seeing the picture got me thinking of some gardening techniques that apply to our spiritual life.

More expert gardeners use a technique called grafting to speed up growth or to protect a healthy bud or branch or in hybrid gardening.  There are more possibilities than that, but those are what we want to look at.

James 1:21 (KJV)  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

That’s the start of the spiritual process.  In order to be saved we must accept the sacrifice of the living Word, Jesus.  And, from there His Word starts becoming a part of our soul.  Although “engrafted” sounds like a form of grafting, it’s not.  The original Greek speaks of having a seed planted.  That’s certainly the beginning of any form of gardening.  You can’t do any grafting if there’s no plant to graft to, or no plant to take a piece from to be grafted onto another.

Romans 11:23 (KJV)  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
We begin to realize how much a living language can change, when we look at these two verses.  “Engrafted” has nothing to do with grafting, but “graffed” does.  You can read the entire passage on your own.  It’s Romans 11:17-24.  But we do want to highlight some things from verses 23 and 24.

The Greek word for grafted is egkentrizo, which literally means “pricked in”.  A plant graft involves cutting a hole or slice into the host plant, the bark or outer layer is taken off the end of the branch to be grafted in, with the tip perhaps shaved to a wedge if it’s to be inserted in a slice.  The gardener then ties the two together to hold the branch in place till the plant and the branch grow together.  Are you seeing the spiritual parallel that I’m seeing?

If we think of the plant life as the Body of Christ, we can think of the host plant as being a particular local Body, and the branch to be grafted in is us.  God has to make a place for us in that local assembly.  We can physically be there, but the relationship won’t blossom without God preparing both to fit together.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I definitely had some layers shaved off and shaped.  There were rough edges God had to smooth down.  The joy of finally being in the right kingdom was a great anesthetic.  But I was aware that old things were being stripped away and it wasn’t always a comfortable change.  Throughout the process God gives both the local Body and us the support needed to make the merge a success.  Which leads into verse 24 for “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey would have put it.

Romans 11:24 (KJV)  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
In plant grafting, there are limitations on what plants can be grown together in the same location, much less grafted together as one.  That’s even true of similar plants.  As noted in the verse, the wild olive bush and the domesticated olive tree don’t normally graft together.  In the plant realm, certain conditions have to be met for a successful graft.  One of those conditions is the compatibility of the plants involved.  Mix the wrong plants and the branch remains ungrafted and dies, possibly poisoning the host plant in the process.
In the spiritual realm there’s a similar reality.  The Christ follower and the unsaved sinner will mix about as well as oil and water.  But those seeds of the engrafted Word don’t leave us attached to a wild olive tree.  That moment changes us forever into a domesticated olive tree, fully ready to blend into the host of the local Body of Christ.  And, for a saved sinner, there will always be a prepared place to become one with the Body of Christ.
One final thought.  A grafted branch will always blossom or bear fruit of its own.  A pink rose branch grafted into a yellow rose bush still produces pink roses.  God doesn’t create unthinking, look alike, act alike automatons.  We still have our individuality.  A leaf can’t be a flower and vice versa.  But we all have our places and functions in the kingdom and plan of God.

So, when you look at a plant, think of God’s grafting to bring us together as unique parts of one entity.  If you follow Christ, all the work and merging is already being done.  If you haven’t gotten to that point, come join us.  There are others that God has ready to give you the understanding you need and the support that’s necessary.  Find a church, today, and find God.

What are you doing to ensure being engrafted and graffed?

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