Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jesus is the good... gardener?

Today my mom was planting some basil seedlings. She took a few out of the peat container and planted them next to some other plants, but one for some reason she left lying on the step. It didn't look any smaller or sicklier than the others, but for some reason she neglected to plant that one. So I picked it up and found a space for it next to a snapdragon - it probably wouldn't be able to grow very tall, but at least it could grow.
Later, after I went inside, I started crying... the strange thing was, I was crying not about the basil seedling, since I had already rescued it, but because I realized something about how much God loves us... I've thought of people as "bugs" compared to God, or as "Sims", but never before as "seedlings"... It's hard to really love a bug, and "Sims" are just computer game entities, but seedlings are real things that people take care of... and they're even less powerful than bugs! But God cares for us nonetheless, and the reason why is because God knows that seedlings grow into mature plants which yield fruit - that fruit being our ongoing relationship with God! Jesus said in a parable that he would sow many seeds of faith, but only the ones that fall on good soil would grow into plants that could be harvested. And just as harvest time must be hard for a plant to go through, so it is with our walk with God - the times we're closest to God are the times in which we realize our relative insignificance, and God tells us (in sometimes painful ways) that while we might be insignificant to ourselves or other people, we are significant in his eyes for the very reason of this spiritual harvest!
But Jesus also said he would burn the plant which does not bear fruit... I'm not sure what that says about the duration of punishment in hell - on the one hand, plants burn quickly, but on the other hand, there's the whole "eternal fire" thing... In any event, though we might be like seedlings to God, we're more than seedlings to each other, and we can actually help each other bear fruit when the going (growing?) gets rough! So I hope I'm helping at least one person bear fruit here... whoever you are, God does want to cultivate a relationship with you, and while he's certainly able and willing if necessary to count you as chaff and not wheat, I'm sure it must be a painful decision... why not show some willingness on your part to listen to what God has to say to you? God only wants to reconcile with you... isn't that kind of amazing in its own right, that God, who is both the plaintiff and the judge, would want to reconcile with the defendant? And yes, I do say defendant - everyone has sinned in some way or other against God, and since God is the judge as well, wouldn't it make sense to take him up on his offer of a "get out of jail free" card? Look throughout the Bible - God gave so many people a second chance, even before Jesus came to the earth...  Noah and his family were spared the flood, because they listened to God... Even at Sodom and Gomorrah, God allowed Abram to search the city several times trying to find righteous people to be saved... And the Ninevites were granted a reprieve after they obeyed the words of Jonah; the city was not ransacked until they returned to their wicked ways. God is truly a loving, merciful judge, and Jesus is the good gardener, who won't let any of his seedlings... well, they can't wander away like sheep, but whatever seedlings do when they feel like being naughty!