What kind of tree would you be?

June 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Margie Eberline 
Barbara Walters has been the target of many jokes for asking the infamous interview question "If you were a tree, what kind would you be?" Many people, including Barbara Walters, agree that the question is just plain silly. I mean how much insight can one gain about a person based on the type of tree they would want to be?  Well, I think that unbeknownst to Barbara, she was really on to something quite deep when she asked the question and I realized this after a recent debate with a friend. 

My friend tried to convince me that people who believed in Jesus were ignorant because according to his research and personal spiritual quest, Jesus was not really the son of God nor was had he risen from the dead. Therefore, people who liked to talk about Him (Jesus) a lot were only trying to brainwash others into believing a lie.

My friend “Freddie” (whose true identity will remain anonymous here) swore that his theories were true because they were based on first hand interactions with Christians as well as valid scholarly research. “Freddie” argued that Christians were clearly self-deceived and that they were contributing to a religion with nothing to offer except disappointment.  “Freddie” knows very well that I am a Christian and I think he expected me to argue with him and to try to convince him that he must have misunderstood the Christians he had come across in the past. But, instead I surprised him and myself when I heard myself saying:

"If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" 

I asked the question to open up a discussion on the difference between what Jesus is about and what some Christians are about. Instead of arguing with him or refuting his theories, I highlighted the fact that quarrels over words have never really gotten anyone anywhere.  And, I proposed that by distinguishing the true essence of Christ from the essence of religious people through the metaphor of trees would be more helpful to both of us.

The bible states that a tree is known by its fruit and there are few who can argue with this principle. Everyone understands that an apple tree cannot bear oranges and an orange tree cannot bear apples. Likewise, people can only yield the fruits of what they are and we can usually tell what a person is or what their character consists of by their fruit which manifests in the form of thoughts, words and deeds. 

Sometimes people like my friend “Freddie” get their trees mixed up and judge Christians by their interactions with people who are more like diseased trees because they are not producing the fruits of the true Christian spirit, which are peace, joy and love. I don’t blame him because any normal, rational person who has tasted the bitter fruits of religion might believe that Christianity does not make sense.  This is especially true when you evaluate it by the behavior of some people who call themselves Christians but twist the message to suit their own agendas.  In fact, I agree that it does not make sense to believe in a deity when believing leads you to be an angry, legalistic, and hateful religious person. I know that if I was a tree that is not the type of tree I would want to be.

But unfortunately, these diseased trees are often mistaken for true Christians because they call themselves Christians and they say they believe in Jesus Christ. But, if I sat in a garage and called myself a car, would it make sense for people to accept that I am a car? NO!!!! Yet, many people judge Jesus and Christianity by the behavior of people who claim to be Christian, without even considering the fruits they bear in their life.
It is important for us to get a clue and realize that if a Christian is not bearing fruit like a Christian then, they are probably not a Christian. Just like a car needs to run like a car and sound like a car to be considered a car, a Christian will demonstrate the fruit of the spirit which are peace, joy, patience and love.

People should really stop judging what it means to believe in Jesus by the behavior of people who claim to follow him yet behave like rotten trees. These people can be found in church, or anywhere in the world professing their faith in Jesus yet failing to bear the fruits of his spirit. It makes Jesus look bad because it presents a false portrait of who He really is.

No one can understand the depths of God enough in one lifetime to "really" know everything about who Jesus is but, it is not smart to simply dismiss the whole idea of Him or the desire to know Him.  However, many people do just that because some self-proclaimed Christian failed to do justice to the beauty of faith in the son that God sacrificed to reconcile sinners to Himself. 
I love Jesus and I believe He died and rose from the dead.  He is a Savior for me and for any other person who believes in Him. My life has changed ever since I started to live by faith and spend regular time seeking God in the bible and through prayer. I think about Him all day long and I am happy.  I do feel other things sometimes but they pass and I feel myself being transformed as I surrender all my cares to God. And, I take comfort in knowing many other people who are like me!

You will not find me knocking on anyone’s door or passing out leaflets on the streets telling people they will go to hell if they do not accept Jesus Christ. He is a gift and believing in Him is a gift that is not to be forced upon anyone; rather it is to be shared with people. Sometimes, I am inspired to share my faith with people I care about or people who have a problem of some sort that Jesus has helped me resolve. I recognize a God-shaped hole behind peoples hurts and I offer the message of Jesus the way people offer each other water when they recognize that they are thirsty.

Most of the time people receive what I have to say and are comforted.  Other times, they get angry because the name of Jesus stirs up some old wound caused by someone in their past who boasted about Jesus but turned out to be a judgmental, miserable, rotten tree. Sometimes, they are stirred into anger by debates over words or history or politics that really have nothing to do with faith or God.  If you think about it, God-the maker of the universe, must have had enough sense to ensure that despite human nature and sin etc- we would all get the right copy of the bible, right? I really cannot picture the Almighty God sitting up in heaven somewhere thinking "dang it! That’s not how I wanted that to read?" or "Ah, man- I wanted them to leave that part in!!! Ugh"

Some might still argue that even if God did provide a document for us, there are so many versions out there now that it is tough to tell which one is the real deal. But, that doesn’t make sense in my book because it is clear that the fruits of the documents are their own witness to what it at their roots.  When you read the bible with a love-filled heart, it is like reading love letters full of promises from a God who loves you deeply and knows you personally. It is the difference between reading a hand-written note from someone you know versus a generic greeting card. It is the faith you have and the intent behind it that makes all the difference in how you read something.

These are the thoughts I have about Jesus Christ.  I share them out of my joy for having found a home in Him and having my life transformed by Him. These things are real to me and go beyond debates about religion and words.  And, I pray that when you consider the kind of fruit bearing tree you want to be, you will form a desire to bear happy fruit too!

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