In the devil’s first attempt to set up his kingdom on earth, what does he build? A tower. A tower in Babylon (Babel). Now, in modern parlance, a tower is usually thought of as a vertical structure like the Sears Tower, but the ancients did not possess the technology to build tower’s of this kind very high, so if they wanted to build a something tall, they built what we would today call a pyramid. It is not surprise then, that in Egypt, the type of evil in the Old Testament, and of power in the ancient world, they would build massive pyramids. Most likely they were continuing the pattern passed down from their ancestors in the Babel experience. It is no surprise then too that we find this pyramid imagery associated with various demonically inspired groups.

Looking at this “tower” what can we learn about the structure of the devil’s Kingdom? Ever heard the term “pyramid scheme”? In a pyramid scheme, the people at the top benefit from the people at the bottom, in successive layers of financial gain and deception. Such systems are really not businesses, they are wealth transfer systems, where the people at the top take money from the people at the bottom, and the people in the middle get a cut for making it happen. What is remarkable is that every demonic system works just like this. There is only one stone atop the great pyramid (at least originally), yet the base covers 13 acres! As a system, then many many people can be controlled and exploited by a single individual, ultimately, spiritually, the devil. Thus the devil is always trying to set up systems like this. 

What do we find God’s Kingdom compared to by Contrast? A close look at Mark 4:30-32 shows that Jesus is not just comparing the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed, but also to the tree or bush that grows from it. In fact throughout the Bible trees, and tree-like images are used when discussing the Kingdom of God. In the beginning, the Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the garden of Eden, and in the end the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (Rev 22:2). Jesus uses the fig tree as an image in explaining God’s dealings with Israel. In Romans 11, Paul’s extensive discussion of Israel and the church is all based around the metaphor of an olive tree. I believe, then that the tree is the structural foil to the pyramid.

Looking at the elm pictured above it is interesting how a tree is basically the opposite of the pyramid. A massive trunk supports a multitude of small branches and leaves. At the top it is wider than it is at the bottom. In a pyramid, the rulership is expressed from the top down, with each higher stone having only contact with the stones immediately above it, so that only those at the very top have any contact with the capstone. In a tree, however, all are connected. They are connected through the life that is in the tree. This is the spirit of Jesus saying “I am the vine, you are the branches,” (John 15:5). We are all in him, and connected to him, therefore it is possible to organize in a way that is impossible for the dead and dying world. The lifeless stones can only be top down, but because of the life in the tree, it is possible to be all be in agreement and fellowship because of the life (Jesus) in the tree.

Instead of stacked stones, there are dependent branches. A large branch, has many smaller branches which depend on it, and the smaller branches have leaves. Those that are strong support those that are weak, and all are in fellowship, not through fear but through mutual love.

6 thoughts on “Healthy vs. Unhealthy Church Structure

  1. I think you are really onto something. Another aspect of the “tree” metaphor for God’s kingdom that comes to mind is the various shapes a tree can take. The life-giving root, as Paul calls it, allows the Body to take many shapes and forms, all of which are acceptable to the Lord as long as they are in Him. Trees come in all shapes and sizes, freely but definitely connected, as the Body with its diverse churches and individuals can be.

    A pyramid, on the other hand, cannot tolerate diversity or an outlier. It is a controlled structure that awes the mind because of its perfect order but is strictly controlled in its expression. Think of the awe that the marching Nazis or communists inspired when WWII footage captured Germany, Japan, and Russian troops. This is comparable to the awesomeness but life-drained structure of a pyramid… impressive in image, but controlled by works (usually enforced by the enslavement one man produced, as you noted.)

    Even the idea of most pyramids or ancient temples being built in the desert (Satan, Egypt, wilderness) whereas trees are dependent on Living Water is interesting.

  2. Two points.. I have often seen the People of God being an inverted pyramid with those at ‘the top’ Father etal at the bottom. holding up each layer of a servent, who then in turn support the the next layer. A true servent structure. But quite possibly Heretical lol

    Point two .. different trees grow in different areas and live off different land. Maybe this shows in some way the diversity of our Lords church across the world. But then we loose the one tree picture, darn it thats me being heretical again…..

  3. Nice observation. An inverted pyramid where the pastor slaves away for “everyone” and God is just there to do something for us. Which is why I think the Biblical picture of the tree is so fascinating. God is in all and through all so many are supported by the life of Christ. It’s not just an upside down pyramid, but it’s a totally different structure.

    About trees, one must always decide how far an analogy goes. Maybe we’re all part of one multi faceted tree 🙂

  4. Not slave but serve, there is a difference there I think. And isnt God the cement that holds it all together 🙂

    Like a tree with multiple grafts .. now i have read about that somewhere…

  5. Nice post, completely agree that the tree analogy does seem to be the anti-pyramid, and nicely explain how the kingdom works. particularly like the fact that unlike drum’s inverted pyramid (though i can see what he means) everyone has a link to the point/root/source that is the father through the sacrifice of His Son.

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