This is a delightfully ham-fisted approach to encouraging children to be good stewards of the environment. In recent years there has been a lot of backlash against the environmental movement by Christians for many reasons; such as its affiliation with progressivism, humanism and even animism. While those concerns are certainly not to be taken lightly, as Christians, we do have a God-given responsibility to take care of this world. But this exploration has nothing to do with environmental stewardship. It has to do with the effects of sin and the only cure, Jesus!
The story starts out in ThneedVille, where there are no trees, and nobody has seen a tree in a long time. We meet Ted, who is in love with a girl named Audrey, and Audrey really wants to see a tree. Ted goes on a mission to find a tree for her. He encounters a lot of trouble, particularly caused by a very powerful CEO/Mayor named O’Hare. O’Hare sees trees as a threat to his power and will do anything to stop their return.
We can take this imagery and relate it to our Spiritual lives. If we equate the trees in the story to our relationship with God, we can see what our world is like as a result of sin. Sin has taken away our relationship with God. And Satan, like O’Hare, will do anything to prevent the return of that relationship.
Ted encounter’s the Once-ler. The Once-ler is a man who is considered to be the cause of all the trouble, the reason there are no trees in Thneedville. You see, a long time ago, the Once-ler made a business out of cutting down trees to make thneeds for people. Though he started it, it wouldn’t be fair to blame him for the destruction of the last tree. Everyone in ThneedVille seemed more than happy to have him destroy the forest, if it meant they could have more thneeds.
In our world, we have Adam. A long time ago, Adam brought sin into the world, severing his relationship with God, and also preventing us from having one. Though Adam started it, it wouldn’t be fair to blame him for the destruction of all spiritual relationships. Everyone has sinned and none are righteous. We were happy to continue in sin, if it means we can have things that we want.
The Once-ler knew that one day a person would come who cared enough about trees that he would do anything to make sure they could come back. Ted is that person, and the Once-ler gives him a seed, the last seed, to bring back to ThneedVille. Once grown, the tree multiples across the land.
Just as sin entered the world through one man, Adam; it is through one Man, Jesus, that we are saved. If the Once-ler is the Adam figure in the film, Ted is the Christ figure. Through him the trees are restored and without him that wouldn’t have happened. When we look back at Ted’s motivation, we might say that he really did it all for a girl, Audrey. But everyone benefitted from it. When we look at Christ, He came willing to do whatever it takes to restore our relationship with the Father. In a way, He did it for a girl, too, His Bride, The Church. But the entire world benefits from His Sacrifice.
Another thing I’d like to look at is what the people in ThneedVille did in response to not having any trees. They made fake trees. I find this to be a clear image of how we as humans, lacking a right relationship with God, seek to fill that void with “fake” versions. Be it religion, idols, or other things; we try to make up for our lack of relationship with God. Just as in the film, only a real tree brings life; in our relationship with God, only Jesus brings us Spiritual life and Life Everlasting.
- In the land of ThneedVille there are no trees, and it is all because of one man, the Once-ler. But is it true that it is all his fault? How did the other people, who bought the thneeds, also cause the destruction of the trees?
- In our world, sin came into the universe through one man, Adam. But he cannot be blamed as the only person responsible for the sin in the world, because each of us is a sinner on our own. Can you think of at least one way you have sinned? (Romans 5:12-21)
- If we equate the Trees in The Lorax to our Spiritual Life, that is, our relationship with God, we will see a good picture of what the world would be like if Jesus never came to save us. There’d be no trees, none of us would know God. (John 14:6)
- The Once-ler knew that one day a person would come who cared enough about trees that he would do anything to make sure they could come back. It is true that he did it for a girl, but the whole land of ThneedVille benefited from the seed he brought back. In a similar way, Jesus came willing to do anything to make sure we could have a Spiritual Life again. It is true that He did it for His Bride, The Church, but the whole world benefited from His Sacrifice. (Matthew 5:25, Ephesians 5)
- Many of the people in ThneedVille had fake trees. This was their attempt on making up for not having a real tree. They even told themselves that the fake trees were better than real trees. In our world, many people have false religions and idols. They tell themselves that these things are better than a relationship with Jesus, but they are fake and will never be able to give them back a right relationship with God. Only Jesus can do that. (Exodus 20:3-6, Isaiah 44:9-20, 1 John 5:20-21)