This week, I joined the National Arbor Day Foundation. I signed up because for a one time $10 membership fee, I would received 10 free trees shipped to my door step. I was a little wary of this offer because 10 trees would be a lot more expensive purchased at a store. A quick bit of internet research showed me that 10 trees might cost something around $400 from a home improvement store. What’s the catch? I’m not sure yet whether I’ve been swindled by the arbor day people or not, but I can say that there was no fine print or anything. It’s just 10 free trees. (Ok, I get the fact that I had to pay $10 so they are not really free; still a $1 tree is practically free).
Why would they give away something so valuable? What’s in it for them? The answer is in the meaning of trees to the good people at the NADF. To this organization, value of these trees is more than their power to produce wealth through commerce. They believe that more trees growing and propagating on our planet means a better quality of life for everyone. Giving away trees means that more people plant them; whereas, requiring money to purchase trees limits the amount of trees being planted and actually works against the mission of the organization.
The Kingdom of God that Jesus taught us about it a lot like these free trees. It’s offered to anyone who will have it. There’s no catch and no “bait and switch”. Jesus shared about a kingdom that would be so precious that you would sell all that you owned to in order to acquire it, but it was also freely given as a gift that we could never earn on our own. Jesus offered this free gift and we can pass that offer on to others without asking for compensation because we know that the more people who have the Kingdom then the more life and glory is growing and thriving in our communities. There is cost involved for the giver of the gift. Jesus had to pay a high price in order to give us that gift.
You could extend the analogy to what we do with the trees after they come. I know what I’m going to do when my trees come: plant them, enjoy them, and share them with anyone who wants to enjoy their beauty and shade.