We have a pretty ugly tree in our back yard. It is a pomegranate tree so it twists and reaches for the sky in a gnarly fashion. It seems to be an old tree. It has seen a lot of life, drought, heat and the occasional kid swinging from its limbs. But did I mention that it is ugly? I don’t think it would ever find its picture on a gardening magazine cover or in the lot of a model home.
But this tree, as ugly as it is and as old as it is still bears fruit. This week I was struck by the beauty of its blossoms, the red flower that is blooming. That little beauty on the ugly tree will become fruit. The tree’s worth is not in its appearance but in its fruit.
Now think of the fig tree. After the triumphal entry to Jerusalem, Jesus is hungry and approaches a fig tree. It was probably beautiful, it had all these leaves. But it had no fruit. Jesus curses the tree and it immediately withers. It is an interesting story for holy week, and it is really about the faith that could command a tree to wither, but it is also about fruit.
It’s not a story meant to guilt the Christian that doesn’t have enough “fruit” in their life, but it does show us the value of faith and bearing fruit.
Now think of the church as a tree. How pretty is the church? Does it have a full complement of leaves with no gaps? Is it even and picturesque? Does it have fruit?
The more I reflect on that ugly tree in my yard, and the church that I am part of, I am struck that no matter how ugly (how far from the cultural demands or even the Christian subculture’s demand) we are, desire to bear fruit. The Lord will trim the vine to get it to bear more fruit, not to make it pretty.
I am totally okay with that. And he would still do it even if I wasn’t okay with it.