When my father passed away several dear friends gave me gift cards to purchase a plant in his honor. This was especially fitting since my father was a botanist and naturalist, as well as a biology teacher.
I knew immediately what I wanted to plant in his honor… an American chestnut tree, blight resistant.
When my father became a seasonal ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1959, one still saw many towering gray tree trunks of dead American chestnuts, the last vestiges of a once mighty species of tree in our mountain forests.
Years later when my parents were living with us, Dad told me that he had read about a blight resistant American chestnut that had been developed and was showing promise of thriving in our mountain habitat. He mentioned that we should get one. I called around to a few local nurseries and no one had any of this variety yet.
So, after my father passed away at 91 years old, I again called the nursery and sure enough, they had American chestnut trees. Phil and I went to pick one up and the man helping us said,
“Now you need two so they can cross pollinate and you then you will get chestnuts.”
Of course – Biology 101.
Thinking about the many trees on our property already, I asked, “How close do I need to plant them?”
“They need to see each other.” he said.
I smile every time I remember this conversation. As I was weeding around those two trees recently, which by the way are growing very well, I was reminded of a spiritual principle that those trees illustrate perfectly.
Trees will only bear fruit, (or nuts) if they are close enough to each other to cross pollinate. As Christians, we will only bear fruit if we are in close relationship to other Christians. We need the cross pollination of our brothers and sisters in faith to keep us growing spiritually in healthy ways.
Some of the effects of cross pollination are:
- recognizing Truth vs. deception
- being held accountable to Godly behavior
- growing the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, self control, etc.
- learning from what the Lord is impressing on fellow believers
- being challenged to love and good works
- reproducing more Christians
It is hard to demonstrate REAL love, patience, or self control if we are all alone. Expressing real love requires an object of that love. My patience is most often challenged by others and I learn to be patient by practicing it on others. It is hardest to demonstrate self control over my tongue when there is actually someone around to hear me. It is through close contact with others that I cultivate the fruit of the Spirit.
I Corinthians 12:12-13, 18-21 says the following –
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
We need each other – to grow, to be healthy, to reproduce.
We must remain close to others Christians, close enough to see each other.
In My Garden with God #10