What tree does the fruit grow on?
Western Europe (and North America) is moving further and further from its moorings in a Christian view of life. Some are glad to see the back of what they might term ‘superstitious nonsense’. Others are deeply troubled that the religious foundations with which they grew up are being shaken.
Young people often think that God is utterly irrelevant to their lives, yet at the same time espouse values like “Be Kind”, and advocate for justice and fairness.
Others demand that everyone be treated equally, fairly and with dignity—that every life matters.
I’m all for these values, 100% for them—kindness is vital; dignity and fairness, essential; and every life does matter.
But what I want to know is: If we have eradicated God, and we are all the results of an accidental universe—given those roots—do desirable fruit grow on the “No God” tree? Can they?
If we are all accidents, where does human dignity come from?
If there is no God to answer to, why live justly and fairly? Where even does our innate sense of justice come from?
If we make progress by nature being “red in tooth and claw” and “the strong triumphing over the weak” why bother with fairness? Why care about the weak? Why on earth would you be kind? Some might say it is because one day you want someone to be kind to you—but something seems a little self-centred about that.
And none of this is to say people without God aren't kind, or treat people fairly, etc. etc.—they are and do, in bucket loads. But why? On what grounds do these things even make sense? Do these fruit grow on the tree of their beliefs, or are they strange fruit, growing from the remaining tendrils of Christian roots?
As we have struck at the very roots of belief in God, we have chopped down the tree in which we wanted to live. The one with the nice fruit. And the fruit we want is withering on the dying branches of belief. The world which we are creating is deeply dysfunctional and unpleasant. And so we cry for kindness, and fairness, and dignity, not realising that we have poisoned the roots from which they grow.
But these fruit are not recovered by hanging them like Christmas decorations on the secular tree, but by replanting in the soil of our hearts the recognition of the God who is there.
From the roots of God’s being grows the tree on which all the good fruit grow. All the fruit we long for. Because He is, then there is purpose, meaning, dignity, justice, fairness etc. These things are echoes in our hearts of Him. After all, the Bible teaches that we are made in his image. As we know Him, and see each other as made by Him, then we see each other as valuable and to be treated with kindness.
We might have thought God was irrelevant—but we have found that we have removed the roots of the tree and wonder why all the nice fruit are disappearing. The anti-God experiment has failed miserably and we are left eating its bitter fruit.
But we need God to be more than the roots of our society, we need His life flowing like sap through our own lives so that each of us bears these fruits repeatedly. That is the only way society will be transformed.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)