apples

Getting Apples (Guest Post by Kenny Silva)

Today’s guest post is from Kenny Silva. In addition to being a close, trusted friend, Kenny is a Nashville-area realtor who is also passionate about leadership coaching and development. You can learn more about Kenny on his blog and follow him on Twitter.

One day, I happened upon an apple tree in my back yard. Unfortunately, there were no apples on it. This was a shame as I’m sure it had the potential to produce some beautiful, wonderful apples. I wanted so desperately for that to happen, so I committed myself to making it grow those apples.

First, I went out and bought an apple tree manual. In that book, I found every bit of information about what makes an apple tree great. I thoroughly searched out every instruction on cultivating the ‘ideal’ apple tree. I trimmed the failing branches and pruned the ugly leaves, just like the book said.

Still, no apples.

Next, I got some friends together in a cute little circle and we studied that manual together. We had a ferocious debate about what exactly the healthy tree should look like. Some of the people in my group lectured me on how I could’ve better taken care of that tree. Eventually, we brought the whole crew out and performed a few more superficial fixes on the tree.

Still, no apples.

I would study that book day and all night, memorizing quotes about the perfect apple tree and reciting them aloud. I would kick and punch that tree all day long; screaming, crying and proclaiming all of the reasons why it should straighten up and produce.

Still, no apples.
And Then I Realized…

My tree was dead. How could I expect apples from a dead tree? Everything I knew about a good and healthy tree was all good and true, but worthless for a dead tree. Nothing I could do to that tree would make it capable of producing the fruit I so desperately desired.

If only I had the power to reach into the very center of that tree and revive it. If only I could dig into the root structure and breathe new life into it. Only then would I have a chance of cultivating the ideal tree.

Only then would I begin to see fruit.

People are Like Trees

The Bible says this about people who don’t know Christ.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Ephesians 2:1-2 NIV

Spiritually, we were dead… Terrifying words if you stop there.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4,5 NIV

God made us alive with Christ… That’s the Gospel.

What Does This Have to Do With People and Trees?

If people are trees and apples are moral character, then how can anyone expect a spiritually dead person to produce spiritually beautiful moral character? If someone does not know Jesus, then how could you ever expect that person to live a life as “one approved?” [2 Tim 2:15]

We seem to be under the impression that we have the power to fix people; that we can simply tell them to stop sinning and that they will. We even go so far as to expect people to make that life change before they’re allowed to meet Christ.

This is a lie called “religion.”

Throwing Rocks at Religion

“Religion is the default mode of the human heart.” Martin Luther

The problem with religion is that it’s all predicated on the idea that you have to work your way up to God. Essentially, religion says that you need do enough good stuff to make yourself favorable in the eyes of God. The opposite of religion is grace.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9 NIV

Preach Grace, Not Religion

Next time you want to call a sinner out on their sin, ask yourself…

“Do they know Jesus?”

When you’re tempted to criticize a non-believing friend’s lifestyle, ask yourself…

“Has anyone ever shared the message of Grace and Truth with this person?”

Before you to tell the seeker they’re not “clean” enough for your church, ask yourself…

“Did Jesus ask Levi the tax collector to go clean up his act? Or, did He simply tell Levi to get up and follow Him?” [Luke 5:27,28]

Lead them to the Cross. Tell them about Jesus. Watch what happens…

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV

When dead people come to life, the good works will come. The strong moral character will develop in response to the in-dwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. Lives will radically change in light of the promised seal of salvation.

Apples will grow.

.

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Grant JenkinsGetting Apples (Guest Post by Kenny Silva)
14 comments
jeffgoins
jeffgoins

Excellent! One of the best modern parables I've ever read. Nice job, Kenny!

kpNashville
kpNashville

Nice perspective Kenny. Thanks for the share.

cupojoegirl
cupojoegirl

Great post Kenny! Dead things/dead people can't bear fruit, we need to acknowledge our need for Him before change and growth are possible. We all, on occasion, fall into that trap of thinking we can resurrect/fix something on our own...but we can't. Thanks!

adamherod
adamherod

"We seem to be under the impression that we have the power to fix people; that we can simply tell them to stop sinning and that they will. We even go so far as to expect people to make that life change before they’re allowed to meet Christ.

This is a lie called “religion.”"

Love that Kenny!

WGB2U
WGB2U

Poignant, moving post. Glad you brought me to this blog as well! Your great understanding of Jesus and His reason for living and dying is so crystal clear in every post you write. You use wonderful analogies to bring your readers right in Kenny and I will reiterate time and again; that every time I read one of your posts, you make me a stronger, more convicted Christian.

This post reminds me very much of the song "My Jesus" by Todd Agnew (Cause my Jesus bled and died. He spent His time with thieves and the least of these. He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable. So which one do you want to be?). I always ache when I hear this song because far, far too many can relate.

Peace to you.

Elena

Martina McGowan
Martina McGowan

Great words Kenny. This sounds like the root of many of the problems at my church. Sadly, many of these dead trees are already inside the church, doing the work of the church and profess to be believers. These are the trees that I am having the greatest difficulty with. They produce little fruit and seem to have little understanding of offering grace to others. They are impediment to growth of the new young trees.

.

kennysilva
kennysilva

@cupojoegirl So true! The tendency is to run away from God, attempt to fix our problems on our own, and then come back to Him in a "more clean" state. I've heard it preached that the mark of a mature Christian is the tendency to lean further into God and trust in Him alone to correct and perfect the messes we run into. I couldn't agree more.

Thanks again for reading!

kennysilva
kennysilva

@WGB2U Thank you for checking out the post, Elena. Your comments always brighten my day. :) Dig around Grant's site a little bit. He's got an amazing story. You can learn a lot about how God moves by reading and reflecting on Grant's journey. Thanks again!

kennysilva
kennysilva

I'm sorry to hear about that struggle, Doc. The best we can do is offer and teach the Gospel and pray for those who haven't truly embraced it. The people that Paul preached the Gospel to the most were the believers in the early Church. We have to live in that and constantly remind ourselves and others of the perfect combination of Truth and Grace that exists within it.