I read Alma chapter 32 again this week and the analogy of the gospel as a seed. I have always loved the imagery of cultivating the tree of Christlike attributes in our lives through the exercise of faith. As I read through this time it struck me how appropriate the tree imagery was because, like a tree, it can take years of care and nourishment before we truly see the fruits of our efforts even though we will see the evidence that the seed is good, as the tree sprouts, long before we receive the fruit that can truly nourish us. Too often we talk about the gospel as if it is always nourishing to us. I think that it is more accurate to say that the hope of the fruit of salvation is what nourished us early on before we start to receive the fruits of our own tree. Prior to that time any nourishment we receive must come from the fruit of trees which others have long nourished.
The other thing that occurred to me relates to the way we talk about various religions. We may acknowledge that various churches have some truth but we make it very clear that this is “the one true church.” How is it that a bad seed can produce good fruit? We are told that it cannot. This has always bothered me since it seemed that every seed which did not lead to the true church must be a bad seed despite the acknowledgment that other churches are not devoid of truth and I have seen good fruits in the lives of many outside our church.
My newfound realization was that all seeds which bear fruit are good. This is similar to the common Protestant assertion that any Christian church is good. I may prefer my apples to your pears, but I admit that they are both good, nourishing fruit. The difference between our belief and this flavor-of-the-month approach is that we believe that our fruit is actually superior to the competing varieties. What I realized is that while that may be true, we would probably do well to emphasize that just because there is a superior offering available does not make the other options less nourishing. This realization might also help us to admit that more nourishing does not always mean more sweet.