Ever since the age of 12 I have loved landscaping. My first job was with a company that was the largest producer of annual flowers in Western New York. From time to time I was privileged to work at various nurseries and for a couple of landscape architects. I even took a correspondence course in landscape design many years ago. I have designed planting for several houses in several different states.
From this experience I have come to understand what it takes to grow healthy plants, specifically trees. The key to growing healthy plants and trees is determined by the type of soil in which they are planted. If the soil is poor and lacks necessary nutrients, the soil must be amended and enriched in order to produce a healthy plant. If this doesn’t happen, the tree will eventually die.
I have a particular fondness for growing trees. Over the years I have planted ornamental, fruit and shade trees. Each tree was planted for a particular purpose. Planting southern magnolias, Kwansan and Yoshino cherries, dogwoods, Japanese maples and Bradford pear trees brought joy because of their beautiful blossoms and ornamental beauty they showed at various times of the year. It was also exciting to plant apple, peach and plum trees for the fruit they produced. One time I planted a kumquat tree and was amazed at the amount of fruit it produced each year. Of course, planting maple and oak trees provided enjoyment as I watched them grow from small seedlings to mighty trees that provided cooling shade during hot summer months.
One also finds many significant references to trees throughout the Bible. Of course, the first tree we think about in the Bible is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When Adam ate the fruit of this tree, sin entered the world and we all know the fatal consequences that followed from that one act. Another tree mentioned specifically in the Bible is the fig tree. It was the leaves from this tree that Adam used to try and hide his sin from God. We are also aware of another tree in the Garden. This is the tree of life. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden so that they would not eat of this tree and live for ever in the state of sin. The Bible also talks about the cursed tree on which Jesus, God’s Son, shed His blood for man’s sin.
There is no question that trees play an important role in God’s plan for mankind. One of the most interesting
analogies related to trees in the Scriptures is its use as a metaphor for a person’s life. One of the most familiar examples of this metaphor is found in Psalms 1. God says that a man who avoids ungodly counsel and meditates in the law of the Lord day and night is like a tree planted by the rivers of water. Such a tree is always fruitful and prospers at all times.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:2-3 (NKJV)
When our lives are planted in the right soil, we are fruitful and prosperous. This is important because the Scripture also emphasizes the importance of a person bearing good fruit. In fact, we are known by the fruit we produce.
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:16-20 (NKJV)
So how do we grow healthy, fruitful trees? When I use the analogy of growing a tree, I am referring to growing fruitful children, families, churches and communities. The key is to make sure we plant them in fertile, rich soil. The soil must have the necessary nutrients to produce healthy trees. Recently I was studying this topic and came across a description of soil related to producing individuals and societies. The Disciple Nations Alliance (DNA) explains that the soil we plant our children, families, churches and communities in can be described as the prevailing worldview.
The prevailing worldview held by individuals, organizations and the culture, in general, determines the richness of the soil in which these things grow and mature. Let me explain. Every child will be planted in a home and some form of school. For children raised in Christian homes, they will, most likely, also be planted in a church. The education (nutrients) that a child receives in these institutions will be determined by the worldview these institutions hold.
There are many types of worldviews that have been identified by different individuals and organizations. However, when you boil all of the various worldview options down, you end up with only two main types. One can have either a man-centered worldview or a God-centered worldview. A man-centered worldview is basically secular in nature while a God-centered worldview can be described as a biblical worldview. These two worldviews are in total opposition to one another.
The question that must be answered is what worldview is forming the soil of our homes, churches, schools and communities? The answer may not be what we think it is. Stay tuned for more on this very important topic.