Beneath the apple tree I awakened you;
There your mother was in labor with you,
There she was in labor and gave you birth.
Song of Songs 8:5 NASB
In the Song, the mother figure points to the role of the Church in the life of a believer. Here we have the Shepherd King saying to the maiden, this is where your mother gave birth to you.
In these three short lines there is a wealth of wisdom for church leaders.
1) The church is first likened to an apple tree. The apple tree has many uses, but the two main assets I’m seeing are it’s protection and provision. The branches and leaves provide shelter from the sun and other elements.
Why protection from the sun?
Remember the parable of the soils? In stony ground, the seeds route system is weekend or nonexistent. The little ones coming up in the church need some help taking hold, digging their roots down deep in the soil. The apple tree—church—should be protecting it’s seedlings and saplings from the strong persecution—standing with them as they face the trials that come along with a new life in Christ.
2) Next we see that mother—the church—was in labor with her. Not everyone in church is in the same place. There are those who are on the road to salvation; There are those who have no idea or connection to Christ at all; There are those who are set in the church to mentor—to disciple—the young up and comers; There are shepherds and warriors in place to protect and defend the little ones of the flock, to ensure they are not devoured by wolves, or choked by weeds, or simply wander off.
3) The path to life in Christ is a path—a way. We must realize that everyone who walks through our doors is in a different place, and there may be labor involved in bringing them to life. Seeds have been sown; Promises have been made; Signs of life are evident. But there still may be labor pains, and we must see it through. We must push and breath and push and breath. It may get messy, and noisy, but we must not relent.
It is far to easy for church leadership to be content with the status quo and resist the work—labor—involved in bringing babies to the Lord. We must do it anyway. It’s why we are here. It’s why God has assembled you.
Maybe church doesn’t look like church to you, and maybe I should use the word community rather than church, but I think you can see what I’m talking about.
God wants you to be in community, and for the community of Christ to labor and bring forth life where before there was only death.
Lord, help me find my place in the process of bring many sons to glory—many men and women to worship at your feet.