I was watching Bugs Life the other day for roughly the zillionth time and there was a scene that hit me in a different way. I am going to assume that you don’t have every line etched deeply into your memory like I do, so I’ll talk you through it.
There is a scene where the main character, Flick, is talking to a young ant that wants to do great things. But she wants to do them now. Flick explains to her that she is a lot like a seed. A seed has within it all it needs to be a tree. It is just not a tree yet. She has it within her to do great things, she is just not a tree yet. So he encourages her to live like she is going to become a tree.
This struck me because I think it is an important lesson we need to hear. I heard Greg Boyd do a similar lesson a few months ago. Each of us are like a seed. We carry within us the image of God. We have the potential to be and do so much. We are beautiful, loved, good, and precious. Jesus says that we have the ability to do greater things than he did. But we are in the process of being transformed. We are not a tree yet.
When we see a seed, we see its potential. We know what it can become, we know the beauty and greatness it can achieve. The seed itself is not impressive, but we treat it differently because we know what it can become. We treat the seed according to what it can become rather than what it is.
The same is true for us. We all carry the capacity for great love, beauty and greatness within us. We just aren’t trees yet. There are days when I am greatly aware that I am not a tree. And on these days I need this message. I may not be a tree yet, but that is where I am headed.
And I think it is easy for us to think that about ourselves. Or if not ourselves, then at least the people we like a lot. Something inside of us knows that we are meant for more. We may not always live up to it, and we may have days we doubt it. But intellectually, it is easy to assent that we or those we love carry great things within ourselves.
But what about the “other” people?
Think for a minute about the people who truly disgust you. Maybe they participate in certain lifestyles you disapprove of. Maybe they make choices you see as wrong. Maybe they checked the wrong box at the poll today. Maybe they’re just irritating and hard to be around.
Can we ascent that they are seeds too? That perhaps they are beautiful, loved, and carry the image of God within them as well? That maybe we should treat the seed differently because we know what it can become?
And perhaps these are the moments we most need reminders that we aren’t trees yet either.
Today is one of the most polarizing days in the life of our country. So let’s take this to heart today. Let’s try for today to see those people we view as “the other” as no less beautiful, loved and wonderful than the people it is easy to like. Let us treat them with greater respect and dignity because we know the one who makes them beautiful, and what we see on the outside often has little to do with who they truly are.
If you want to take this really seriously check our Election Day Communion. This is a pretty fantastic program they have put together and I recommend looking for a church in your area.