Since the dawn of time, Humans have been consumers, rather than replenishers of resources. We take and use up the resources of the earth, with very little thought of how we are to replace them. We create economic systems and social arrangements, but we have no idea how to keep them going past the moments we use them in our lifetimes. We have been so careless and reckless with our environment that we have now reached a tipping point. Therefore, we must act to save the planet, or to quote The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree, we will be “cut down!”
In this parable (Luke 13:6-9), Jesus tells the story of a gardener who has been ordered by the owner of a vineyard, to cut down a fig tree that has not produced fruit for three years. The concerned gardener convinces the vineyard owner to grant one more year of life to the tree. During that year, the gardener promises to dig around the tree give it special attention. However, at the end of the year, if the tree produces no fruit, it will be cut down!
The metaphors in this parable are clear: Jesus is the Gardener who is willing to work with us, willing to dig around our lives, and is willing to give us special attention. Jesus will provide the food that we need (the Bread of Life), to sustain us and grow us.
Then we will produce much fruit. The metaphors in this parable extend to this planet and our communities. Because of our long history of taking from our environment, while refusing to give it help or time to rejuvenate, many trees on earth are defective, diseased and dying. With help and directions from the Lord, we are the gardeners who can reverse current trends. We can stop our destructive ways, and help the Earth to recover, so that it can produce and sustain the fruit we need in order to survive.
The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, defines sustainability as practices that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. There are three recognized core pillars of sustainability: economic development, social development, and environmental protection. As gardeners of sustainability, we strive for the achievement of the following goals in our quest to have a world that produces fruit.
The end of poverty and hunger
Better standards of education and healthcare - particularly as it pertains to water quality and better sanitation
The achievement of gender equality
Sustainable economic growth while promoting jobs and stronger communities
The moral and political will to tackle the effects of climate change, pollution and other environmental factors that can harm and do harm to people's health, livelihoods and lives
Access to affordable healthcare, with the adoption of improved standards of personal and mental health for all.
God has given us dominion over the earth, and as Christians, we have been saved to produce good fruit. The time of grace has begun, and the clock is ticking. It is up to us to use our God-given gifts to engage in practices that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. If we let the Lord guide us, then we will be a people that produce good fruit, and live lives of sustainability. If not, then we will wake up to find that we made a poor gardener, and all that is left is for the Owner to say, “Cut it down!”