Trees in the Bible
Last Sunday we started our Fruit of the Spirit sermon series, reflecting on Paul’s intentional use of fruit to describe core qualities that God desires to grow in us.
One point we touched on was that fruit does not bring life to the tree, but is produced by life from the tree. The fruit of the Spirit is not a list of character traits that we develop in order to receive the love and life of Christ, they are some of God’s own attributes reproduced in our lives as we receive the love and life of Christ. The tree is central to the fruit.
There’s something about trees, their stature and upward reach of their branches that evokes in my soul a quiet sense of awe at the majesty of our loving Creator. Did you know that after God and humans, trees are the next living thing mentioned most in the Bible? That’s quite a bit of real estate in the pages of scripture. Could there be something to pay attention to?
Genesis 2 tells of God planting a garden where He places Adam (and later Eve), His image bearers, among the trees that God causes to grow from the ground. Beautiful and good for food, a tree-filled garden is their first home, primary source of physical nourishment, a palate of beauty to delight the heart, and a source of meaningful work.
God created trees and humanity to be interdependent and integral for mutual flourishing. Trees expel the oxygen that our lungs inhale for life, while absorbing the carbon dioxide we exhale. The centrality of trees for our physical flourishing presents a powerful picture of the centrality of Christ for our spiritual flourishing.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a series of brief reflections (in the E-Beacon) based largely on Matthew Sleeth’s book, Reforesting Faith. I hope you’ll take the time to read them as we consider the spiritual significance of trees throughout Scripture.
(photo cred to Jon Moore via Unsplash)