Robert Templeton

Robert Templeton

Let me ask a question: When do you know an apple tree is in fact an apple tree?

Seems like a silly question, doesn’t it? But is it really? Consider this. Does an apple tree produce apples all year? Is there ever a time when the tree has no apples dangling from its branches? Perhaps we can consider the same question for peach trees, or even fig trees. Let’s go back to that apple tree. When is an apple tree never an apple tree?

I love to go to garden centers in the spring and summer. I can spend hours walking up and down the aisles looking at all the pretty colors, imagining my yard becoming an oasis of blooms season after season. You can ride by any retail outlet with a garden center in early spring and the place will be covered with patrons, eager to plop down their hard-earned dollar for these attractive blooms, and the retail centers know this. Do you think it a coincidence the garden centers are placed next to the highway?

Those blooms catch our eye, and our eye loves to see the pretties. Yet I ask you to think about this; do basic green plants ever make you want to pull over and spend your afternoon walking up and down the aisles? Probably not; nothing is blooming. Why would they even catch my eye’s attention?

Very often, Christians seem to forget that before they bloomed, they had to first mature into a vessel that was capable of producing a bloom. Oftentimes, we grown-up Christians have little patience for others who aren’t “where we are” in our walk, forgetting that not too very long ago, we were at best a green plant not yet blooming.

We can be a snooty bunch at times, with haughty eyebrows and a nose so far up in the air we can catch a Boeing airplane with a simple inhale. We oftentimes fail to remember that with spiritual growth, the same way the baby plant from which we began our journey had to grow into a mature plant capable of producing blooms, those who aren’t where we are have to travel that same road as well. This is a stark reminder sometimes that our flowers aren’t as pretty as we would like to believe they are.

It’s unfortunate when we behave like this. Many people know we profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, that in fact He is the Gardener and we are his garden. What does our fruit tell others about His ability to produce a plant with a beautiful bloom? Is it possible our blooms are driving people away from Jesus instead of drawing them to Him? Could this be why He is constantly pruning us?

May I suggest we consider our blooms. What are we using as our “fertilizer?" How much “water” are we taking in each day? How many hours in the “sun” are we having? Whose hands are in charge of the pruning of your garden? Are you keeping the weeds out?

The next time you see a green plant that is expected to produce a bloom and yet you don’t see that bloom, take a closer look inside the foliage. You might just be surprised. 

Robert Templeton is pastor of Cope Baptist Church.

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