A lichen is a combination of a fungus and an alga. The fungus provides the structure, and the alga produces food through photosynthesis. Often there is a third member, a cyanobacteria, which produces a wide range of colors, such as brown, dark Greek or black.

There are 3600 species of lichen in North America, and a variety of habitats, including deserts, forests, and tundra. There are several different shapes, such as crusty, leafy, flat, and thread-like. 

It is sometimes mistaken for moss, but it is not, for it does not have root, stem, or leaves.  When it lives on a tree, it is not a parasite, but only uses the tree as a base. If it lives on a stone, the acids it produces slowly makes the stone disintegrate, and in this way contributes to the soil.

It absorbs pollutants and heavy metals from the atmosphere, but excessive pollution can diminish growth and even kill it. It can endure through periods of drought but will revive when it receives moisture.
It provides food for certain animals, such as reindeer. In industry, it is used in some dyes, toothpaste, deodorants, salve, perfume and antibiotic.

The inter-relatedness of the life forms within the lichen is an occasion for us to meditate on the inter-relatedness we have with the indwelling Christ. Just like the alga provides the life-giving properties and the fungus provides the structure, Christ proves spiritual life to our physical bodies. Consider these verses:

1. God has sent his son into our hearts. Galatians 4:6
2. Paul calls “Christ in you” a marvelous secret. Colossians 1:27

3. Paul prays that Christ may dwell in our hearts. Ephesians 3:17
4. The life of Christ is revealed in our mortal flesh. 1 Corinthians 4:11
5. Paul finds Christ’s indwelling a great comfort. Galatians 2:20

1.Jesus exhorts us to remain in Him, and promises to remain in us. John 15:4
2.Christ prays that we may be in him. John 17:20-23
3. John writes that we are in Christ. 1 John 5:20


1.Jesus says the Spirit will be in us. John 14:17
2. Paul says we are of Christ because the Spriit dwells in us. Romans 8:9, Ephesians 2:22

3. Paul calls us a temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19
4. Paul prays for the Spirit to strengthen us inwardly. Ephesians 3:16
5. The Spirit produces fruit in us Gal 5:22 ff, contrasted with the body without the spirit, v16ff
6. Christ’s Spirit in us is a comfort as we consider death. Romans 8:10-11

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