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SAGEBRUSH CHRISTIANS
Thursday, January 21, 2021 by Leona Choy

Two look-alike plants both grow in the arid desert—an unfriendly environment. Similar to the wheat and the tares of Jesus' parable, one is fulfilling its God-ordered, positive purpose; the other is an impostor with a negative agenda. Likewise, there are Sagebrush Christians and Tumbleweed Christians.

The sagebrush is not a useless plant stuck way out in dry, arid places, populating deserts. It has much to commend itself. It doesn't produce anything edible. The fact that it's so common doesn't make it less valuable.

A cousin to the daisy family, it has a somewhat pleasant, although pungent aroma. In the lonely desert with no human beings to appreciate it, it still insists on being beautiful with lovely yellow flowers and evergreen foliage. It grows in a dry land but its long taproot finds water deep beneath the scorching sand. Its surface roots gather water from the sparse rains. Whatever the conditions, it can survive and thrive.

The many branched bush simply by virtue of its existence is a shady shelter and hiding place for desert animals. Its silver-gray foliage provides a good camouflage. The sagebrush isn't going anywhere—it is soundly anchored in the desert. It can be depended on to grow where it is planted and fulfill its purpose. Its foliage is used by Native Americans for medicine, healing infection, and in the treatment of many illnesses.

There is a copycat plant to the worthy sagebrush. The TUMBLEWEED is an equally beautiful pink and white blossoming shrub that looks much like the sagebrush and shares the uncordial sandy environment. Several species were brought over from the Ukraine in about 1887 to South Dakota along with flax seeds. It gradually took over the barren landscape like Kudzu has in other areas.

During its green growing season, it can easily be mistaken for the sagebrush. But in late summer, its branches dry up, the plant dies, and seeds are produced which are poisonous and distasteful to animals which stay clear of the tumbleweed. A single plant may grow to 3 feet and bear 250,000 seeds.

Strong, blistering winds force the dried tumbleweed to detach from the soil, leave its shallow roots behind, and abandon its birthplace to take off to parts unknown—rolling and tumbling like an acrobat wherever the gusts if wind carry it. The result is the seeds are dispersed as they go along and eventually produce more tumbleweeds. The seeds germinate rapidly wherever they land. When the dead tumbleweeds bump into each other, because they are thorny, they spontaneously tangle together.

These collections of trouble become monstrous in size until they can no longer roll. They block highways and impede cars as they land against them. The wind piles them high against fences and even against houses and buildings in huge stacks where they block entrances. The dry plants are flammable and become a fire hazard. The tumbleweed is said to have no redeeming value.

A Tumbleweed Christian allows his roots to be severed with any strong gust of wind and is likely just to take off. He is not “steadfast and unmovable.” He becomes “driven and tossed by a contrary wind.” (James 1:6) Such people in their restless tumbling find it easy to get entangled, connected with others like themselves and together they become a formidable threat and danger to whomever they encounter. They spread “seeds of malcontent,” (words of criticism, judgment and hate) which reproduce their characteristics and multiply themselves.

Christians often find themselves planted by God in hostile or unwelcoming circumstances where they could be afflicted or persecuted—spiritually or literally. At the beginning of 2021 in this country we have gone through an Inauguration and change of administration about which there is still partisan controversy, debate, and much heated rhetoric.

God wants us to be Sagebrush Christians unshaken and moved wherever He plants us. Jesus is with us, never forsakes us, and works His purposes through us whatever the vicissitudes of political change. Those who are anchored “in Christ” are His. Strikingly beautiful flowers bloom for their Creator whether or not there are human eyes around to enjoy them. God sees them; they are for His pleasure. God may plant us where Living Water is scarce, out of our comfort zone, but like the sagebrush, we know where The Water is always to be found. We point our roots to the deep where the Living Water flows which we are to bear to others.

Sagebrush Christians are “sage.” The “wise” don't complain, “Why did God allow a particular government establishment to prevail?” God has His sovereign purposes which He is not obligated to disclose to us. He wants us to trust Him. Meanwhile, we are called to bloom where we are, to provide shade, encouragement, and shelter for others who look to us for godly wisdom and a godly attitude.

God may ask us to give up our “leaves” for the healing and restoration of others. That may involve getting sand in our shoes and in our mouths, and enduring scorching heat. Second Corinthians 1:3-11 sets forth God's clear purpose for wherever He plants us even when it involves sufferings, persecutions or afflictions. Among others in the Bible, He led both Daniel and Joseph to flourish under hostile political regimes.

Isaiah 58:6-11 becomes more specific: As Sagebrush Christians, we are to spend ourselves in love for others and in doing so, we will be “like a well-watered garden, an ever-flowing spring, an oasis” to point the way to Jesus. Whatever our political environment or even when our freedoms are suppressed, let's stay anchored by our roots.

As Jesus declared, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” “Make your ear attentive to wisdom [be sage!], incline your heart to understanding” (Proverbs 2:2).


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