I have always proclaimed through good times and the Florida BCS debacle that I am a proud Ohio State Buckeye fan. This week I go back to my Buckeye roots to proclaim another proud association. My hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio is known to many Ohioans as the first state capital. Others know Chillicothe as the principal town of the great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh. Others remember Chillicothe as the place that Anne-Margaret tells Elvis she grew up in a brilliant scene from the cinema classic Viva Las Vegas. But now I have one more thing to put on the list. This past weekend the Cavaliers of Chillicothe High School won the Division 2 state high school basketball championship. I once played for the Cavaliers and for one of the great coaches that I have ever met, Tom Cuppett. Coach Cuppett put in place a winning attitude that I hope began to lay a foundation that eventually led to being state champs. Congrats to the Cavaliers! I guess you don’t get a ring if you graduated thirty-six years ago.
I am also proud of my later alliance with the Baylor Bears. This week the Bears complete a miracle comeback when they make their first appearance at the NCAA Basketball Tournament in two long decades. No matter what happens in their game against Purdue I will be enormously proud of Coach Scott Drew and this special group of young men. Hannah and I join in a hearty “Sic’em Bears”!
The lovely Mrs.Burchett and I have been enjoying a little time together this spring break week. A junket to beautiful Sedona, Arizona has been restful and restoring. Today we visited one of God’s masterpieces here in Arizona.
We paused during a hike to sit and listen to the sounds of a mountain creek. I happened to look up and noticed something unusual. The trees were completely barren except for one single leaf hanging onto a dead and lifeless branch. That one lonely leaf had attached itself to a source without hope of life and growth.
For some reason I began to think about how many Christians hang on to a dead and lifeless theology. There is no chance to grow and flourish. I thought about how many sincere followers of Jesus accept the safe and familiar even if it is miserable and lifeless existence. They choose the safe instead of risking the vibrant and joyful adventure of fully trusting Christ.
Jesus gave a similar analogy when he described the vine in the Gospel of John.
I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples. (John 15, The Message)
Still we too often hang on to a theology that ain’t workin’ and refuse to take the chance to graft into the vine that produces fruit. When we came to Christ we were grafted into this vine. I often quote the book TrueFaced and I am going to do it again. We were changed when we trusted Christ. When that occurs God is no longer interested in changing us. We are already changed and rewired with the identity of Christ Himself. For the Christian God is now interested in each one of us maturing into what is already true about us.
So we don’t need to hang onto a lifeless branch with no hope. We have been grafted into the living vine that produces fruit. The prayer is that we will trust that truth and mature into what is already true about us in the eyes of our Loving Heavenly Father.