Actually, no. The purpose of an apple tree is to produce more apple trees.
People think apples are the plant’s reason for being, because WE love to eat apples, and we cultivate and groom the trees to get their fruit. But from the tree’s point of view, the apple is just a part of a process that serves a bigger goal. It’s a delivery system for the seeds.
We sometimes see our own lives the way we see apple trees. The ornamental and consumable fruits that we produce are confused with the meaning and purpose of our existence.
Our apples might be money or recognition, or fancy homes and fancy toys, or you name it. With hard work and good fortune, our lives produce all sorts of things that are wonderful and valuable.
The trick is to not be fooled into believing these things are why we’re here. They are gifts, to be sure, but they are a means for delivering the seeds we have to plant.
If your life is a tree, think of the things you have to contribute to the world. You have natural talent or hard-earned expertise, and there’s stuff you’re really good at. When you use your gifts, you hopefully earn income, the admiration of others, and different kinds of opportunities. Good fruits, right?
But the question each of us should ask is, am I multiplying the life God has given me?
I’m not talking about whether or not you have kids. I’m talking about whether you use your gifts in a way that actually increases those gifts in the world. Is your goal to stop at fruit, or to actually plant seeds that will grow?
A seamstress, for example, may make beautiful clothes that everyone loves, but the people around her feel disempowered from learning to sew, because she’s so great at it that they’re afraid to try. Her life will be truly fruitful when she not only makes beautiful clothing herself, but also teaches others to do what she does.
This is the way of the apple tree, and the way of Jesus. Jesus wowed a lot of people with his personal wisdom and power and sense of hope. He was quite a guy, and people were impressed. But if Jesus’ ambition was merely to be impressive, he would have been forgotten, erased from history the moment the last one of his personal friends died.
Think of those grapes and watermelons genetically altered to be seedless, never to produce another vine.
The reason Jesus is remembered is that he empowered people to do what he did. He did not hold his power over people or make his greatness all about his own person. Instead, he showed people how the grace embodied in his life could be embodied in theirs, as well.
His call to justice became their call to justice.
His healing work became their healing work.
His resurrection became their resurrection.
Because they were empowered by Jesus, they shared what they got from him with those who came later, and those people passed it on too, across generations, until it reached us.
The purpose of an apple tree is to produce more apple trees. How are you doing, planting the seeds that are yours to plant?