The forest and the trees. Let me tell you something about them. Sometime you see one, but not the other. And other times you see the other, but not the one. Well, you know how that goes, just pick one or the other.
I thought of the forest and the trees as I was reading Matthew, chapters 18 and 19. Like much of the Bible these chapters are full of "wait a minutes" and "uh-ohs" and "yeps" and "ehhs." In a couple of verses (particular when Jesus is about) the Bible has a tendency to have you nodding, "Jesus goes after the one lost sheep, awesome" and awkwardly swallowing "wait a minute, I'm suppose to point out a sin in my fellow church member?".
If you hang around church long enough you'll hear sermons on these different trees. Often the awkward ones will be avoided, but they will be mentioned. Slowly, as you understand more and more trees you think that you understand the forest. Christianity becomes about the sum of the smaller parts.
That, however, is a distorted view. Christianity is much more than the sum of the parts (though the trees matter). We, or should I say, I focus on the trees. I argue with others over the different trees, disagreeing on the shade of brown or the bent of the limb. I stay at the level of the trees because I want to avoid the forest. The trees are interesting, but are small enough to fit into my point of view. I can survey a tree and handle it.
The forest is wild. It is unwieldy. We don't like talking about the forest, because we can't grasp the forest. We can't fit the forest into our horizon. It goes beyond.
Jesus says, "follow me." Pick up your cross, sell your possessions, and follow me. Worry not about the world or the thoughts of your neighbor, but follow me. Do not be afraid, he says, follow me.