Consider the lowly maple tree. There are several varieties to choose from. There is the red maple (Acer rubrum), the Norway maple (Acer plantanoids), the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), the silver maple (Acer saccharinum [dasycarpum]), and the black maple (Acer nigrum) just to name a few. All these are different in some way. Their leaves are different shapes and colors. Their bark is rough or smooth. Even the density of the wood may vary. But one thing common to these maple trees is the way they reproduce to ensure that there will be a new generation of young trees to follow them. The secret to the success of these wonders of God’s creation are “maple keys”.
You already know what they are. You have known since you were a child. Remember the little parchment colored “helicopters” that littered the ground around that big tree in the back yard? You tossed them into the air and they twirled back to the earth like tiny helicopters carried on the wind. The proper name for this little marvel is the samara. But they are also called “maple keys”. They begin to appear in early spring and mature in late summer. But they need some help to fulfill their ultimate purpose of planting a new generation of maple trees. That help comes from the wind. When the wind blows through the tree the maple keys are lifted on the breeze and carried out beyond the shade of the parent tree to more fertile ground with more access to the sun and rain to ensure a good crop of new maples. All the information needed to create a brand new tree is contained in each little seed. God’s creation is full of tiny wonders if we only take time to look.
This simple but wonderful process put me to mind of the Christian life. We who are called by the name Christian are given a task to be sowers of precious seed to ensure a new generation of young Christians. Our ultimate purpose as individuals and the church is to win souls for the Kingdom and make new Christians. This can happen in many ways for we are all different and possess unique gifts for the ministry to which we are called. Yet one thing is common to all of us and that is the message of faith and love contained in the Bible. The seed we bear is the word of God and those who hear it from us or see it in us are like the soil in which the seed is sown. (Luke 8: 4-15) All the information needed to grow a brand new Christian is contained in the pages of God’s word and we are to be bearers of that word to a lost world. But we also need some help to fulfill this purpose.
In the scriptures the Greek word pneuma is used several times. It is translated most often as “wind”. However, in the New Testament pneuma is also translated as “Spirit”. On our own we are not able to change one person or to convince anyone of the need for salvation. But with the help of God’s spirit working in us and in those to whom we are sent, we are empowered to accomplish the task to which we are called. In our Christian life we are to practice our faith and be diligent in our study so that the good seed, which is the word of God, will mature in us. And if we allow the Holy Spirit (pneuma) to flow freely through our lives, that seed will be spread to fertile ground and spring up as new life in Christ and a new generation of the people of God. As Psalm 126 reminds us, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”