Sunday, January 12, 2014

Life's Kinda Like a Tree

     Throughout the Bible, analogies are used frequently.  They help us to apply what we see to our spiritual journey, and explain deep truths in ways that are easy to understand.  Among the dozens of analogies used in Scripture, we can find quite a few that have to do with plants.

     Plants, you ask?  Yes, plants!  They're nothing out of the ordinary, yet the Lord uses something so common to point out things He wants us to see.  From the Psalms to Paul's letter to the Galatians, let's take a look at three ways God uses plants to teach us about aspects of our faith:

     The first of these is Galatians 5:22-23, or as we would better know it, the "Fruit of the Spirit."  Okay, okay, so this passage isn't exactly talking about fruit from a tree.  In these verses, "fruit" simply means "a result" or "payment," so essentially this could be called "the result of what happens when you walk in the Spirit."  However, the common title is, in my opinion, much more exciting.

     But if this passage isn't about edible fruit, why am I using it?  You see, edible fruit is, in a sense, the "result" of the life of a tree.  So, let's look at the fruit of the spirit in the same way; many times, people try to get to heaven by being good - by having love, joy, peace, and so on.  This, however, is not the right way to do things.  It's called morality.

     How silly it would be to try to make a tree by stapling a bunch of apples to some branches?  It wouldn't make any sense at all!  The tree must come first, and then the fruit will come as a result; not the other way around.  This brings us to our next analogy, found in John chapter 15.

     In this passage, Jesus tells us that He is the Vine.  For this example, however, let's say he's the "trunk."  Christ calls us the branches.  He says "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit."

     We see here that Jesus Christ is the "trunk" (so to speak) from which we, as the branches, must grow.  Notice that it isn't until after He makes this point clear that fruit even comes into the conversation.  Again, the order remains the same: Christ comes first, and the fruit comes afterwards.  Bearing fruit is not the most important thing on the list; letting Christ be the foundation of your life is essential.

     With this, we move on to our last scripture: Psalm 1.  In it is an explanation of the man who delights in the law of the Lord.  Basically, this man has Christ as his foundation.  The plant analogy comes in verse 3: "He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers."

     Thus, by what we've learned from the previous scriptures, our life becomes a tree.  Christ is the trunk, we are the branches, and our actions (and our character) are the fruit.  This seems like a simple enough point, but it is critical that we understand it.  We, as corrupt humans, cannot be the center of things, nor can our good intentions.  Only Christ can do that.  This order simply cannot be emphasized enough.

     This has been a fairly long post, but believe me, we have not even scratched the surface.  There are dozens and dozens of other points that could be made from the passages I used.  I encourage you to discover them for yourself.  You will find a plethora of wisdom in just a single verse!