Today the tree is massive, 400 feet tall, and an acre in diameter. If you Google “Fort Myers banyan tree panorama view,” you can watch a 360 degree video of what it looks like. Did you notice the aerial roots? The exposed prop roots act as braces to enable the tree to just keep expanding outward. Amazing. There is nothing ordinary about it.
Phineas Bresee, the founder of the Church of the Nazarene, was no ordinary leader. He was a massive banyan. His influence and effectiveness were dependent on his roots, which were nurtured in Wesleyanism and anchored in holiness. For Bresee, holiness was not just an intermittent sermon topic, a doctrine to be occasionally taught, a nice idea of which he had been intellectually convinced, or merely a tag placing him on a certain branch of a theological tree.
Bresee teaches us to focus on Jesus and his perfect love as we contemplate the needs of the world around us.
Holiness for Bresee was a life-altering, agonizing, personal surrender that resulted in a complete reorganization of his life. This absolute consecration infused him with love and oriented his ministry to the poor, hurting, andrejected persons in his sphere of influence. Holiness was the root of his life and ministry. These holiness roots supported every limb of his work. His Christian education, polity, preaching, praying, care for the poor, worship, discipleship, all of his ministry was informed, nourished, and supported by the ever-expanding aerial roots of holiness.
Pastor, what is the major orientation of your life? In these hectic, challenging days of ministry, it is so easy to become nervous and anxious. Questions flow: Am I being effective? Am I making a difference? Are my leaders pleased with me and my work? And more importantly: Is Christ pleased with my service? I am praying that this Grace & Peace issue, which focuses on Phineas Bresee, will help you to take a step back, breathe deeply, and imagine a new—yet old—way to bless the kingdom of Christ. Bresee teaches us to focus on Jesus and his perfect love as we contemplate the needs of the world around us. I believe this will lead you to a quiet, inner strength that will naturally support all the branches of your expanding ministry.
Pleased with the Prospects,
BOB BROADBOOKS USA/Canada Regional Director