Evangelism and disicpleship share an obligate symbiotic relationship, which, when empowered by the work of the Spirit, leads to the growth of the church. They are not enemies. They were never intended to be separated. And, like the Joshua Tree in the Mojave Desert, the church, a Great Commission ecosystem, is planted in desolate places to offer salvation.
The Joshua tree is an iconic symbol of life in the Mojave Desert. It’s a tree straight out of a Dr. Suess story or ripped from a Vincent van Gogh painting. With its porcupine-like bark, spiky leaves, and topsy-turvy-arm-like branches, it looks like a clumsy giant towering over the barren, brown, sun-drenched landscape.
For me, pictures of the desert recall movie scenes with stranded travelers or run-away prisoners covered in sweat, drowning in sand, chasing elusive visions of an oasis on the horizon. That’s why the Joshua tree stands out. In an unforgiving environment, this tree means salvation. It offers shade and nutrition to a number of desert critters. Without it, they wouldn’t survive.
But as big of a deal as the Joshua tree is, it is dependent upon something very small. While the tree gives protection and nutrition to many, it wouldn’t make it for long were it not for a particular moth. Unlike other flowering trees, the Joshua tree doesn’t produce nectar to attract pollinators. The Yucca moth has reason to help the tree out with pollination. The moth’s babies eat the seeds from the flower of the tree for food in their first days of existence before they form cocoons.
Most pollination is kind of incidental. Bees like the nectar they pick up from flowers. They just happen to take on some pollen and carry it with them to the next flower as they search for another sugary treat. To them, their pollination is a bit of a happy accident. Since the Joshua tree is sans-nectar, this tree named for salvation is need of some saving itself.
Enter scene Yucca moth.
Not only do the Joshua trees not have nectar, they have very little pollen.