About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Our Garden

We have a back yard, but it is more than a back yard.  It is a garden.  I take some pride in our back yard.  Some may call me a man with a green thumb, or even a gardener.  In reality I am neither.  I am more of an artist, a creator of something that is pleasing to the eye. Our back yard is not big by any stretch of the imagination, but it is our imagination that makes it what it is.   Maybe our yard is more of a park.  Whatever you call it, it is a product of our imagination.  It is a work of art more than anything else.

What makes up our back yard?  Well, there is grass, yet the patch of green stuff is getting smaller every year.  It is being replaced by other things, like interlocking brick, patio stones, gravel, and of course flower gardens.  Yes, flower gardens that are nicely shaped, some with a definite noticable shape, and some just shaped in a free style sort of way.  

There are many things that make up our park like back yard.  Beyond the grass and the almost 60 other different types of vegetation  are, a bench, bird bath, rocks and stones, chimes, garden animals (not real of course - we have a hard enough time keeping our dog out of the flowers, - I don't need any other real animals).  All these go together to produce this work of art.  A creative garden is more than flowers.  It has to do with shapes, colours, variety and thoughtfulness.   

Our back yard often reminds me of the church, or even the Kingdom of God.  There are so many similarities that I will probably leave many out in my list.  Let me try to list them anyway.

Our back yard takes work for it to look nice.  The church needs lots of work if we are to look nice.  Maybe that is why at time the church doesn't look so nice.  We are not always doing our part - Ehp. 4. 

It is not the lifeless objects that give me the problems.  The fake fox is no problem at all.  He ends up in a different spot every year.  It is the living things that give me the problem.  The same in the church.  Church pews don't give us any problem.  It's the people sitting in the pews that give us the problems.  There's two types of living things that give me problems in our yard.  One type is real live animals, like squirrels.  They are cute to look at, but they like eating some of the flowers.  Sounds a little familiar doesn't it.  Sometimes outsiders, whether people or satanic helpers come in and try to eat away at the church.

Then the other living things are the plants themselves.  Each spring there is always great hope for that perfect garden, but hope always runs into problems.  Last year one bush struggled with a few days of coldness in the spring.  It lost all of its blossoms and therefore produced no leaves on half of the branches.  Now this year those branches are dead.  We had to cut them off.  Sounds like John 15 to me.   Then there was a nice maple tree that provided lots of shade from the summer sun.  It started dying off in July.  We had to cut it right down.  How sad.  We lost our shade.  We replaced it with two other trees that will take years to produce shade.  There are some in the church that don't produce shade or fruit right away.  We have to be patient with them.  

Then there are the transplants.  It seems that I am always transplanting something.  The problem is that sometimes the transplanted plants take and sometimes they don't survive.  It is the same with some in the church. They can't take a move and they don't  survive. 

Then there is the work, (did I already mention work) the constant watering, cutting of grass, pulling of weeds and trimming of branches.  In the spring sometimes I don't know what is a weed and what a is a plant, so I have to let them both grow until I see who is who.  Sound familiar too, doesn't it.  Didn't Jesus tell us not to pull out the weeds in case we pull out a flower by mistake. We do have weeds growing in the church.  Not all that are a part of the church are true believers. 

Anyway, as I said, each spring I have lots of hopes and dreams.  Some of the dreams turn out and some don't. It takes work to make these dreams come true, and even at that it seems that some dreams are left for a future time.  That is the way with the Christian life.  Not all of our hopes come true.  Some do and some don't.  Yet our greatest hope of meeting Jesus will surely come true. There is no doubt about that.

I need to water the plants daily.  I need to fertilize them to help them along.  That is exactly the roll of the leadership of the church.  They need to provide water and nourishment for the church to stay alive and thriving. 

Sometimes a plant gets sick.  At times plant medicine will help.  Sometimes a certain plant needs a lot of tender loving care.  That is the our roll in the church, that is to support one another, especially when we are in need.

Some plants are hardy and seem to be able to do well on there own in any condition.  Some of us are hardy as well.  Yet some plants and some people seem to always need attention. 

There are so many comparisons between a nice park or garden and the church.  When done right our back yard looks real nice, even though it is never perfect.  With the right ingredients, both our back yard and the church can look real nice and attractive.  Our back yard is a comfortable place to be.  Its a place to relax, to sit and see God's beautiful creation.  The same with the church.  The church, when operating as it should, is a great place to be.  It will attract others to it to enjoy.  Yet the church that is in disarray is far from being attractive and is more repelling than compelling. 

There is great variety in our back yard, variety in colour, shapes and size and types of plants.  The same in the church.  There is a great variety of different types of people, each with varying talents.  But when each is doing its part and works for the common good, things blend in so nicely, producing something very pleasant to behold. 

The church can be a nice place to live.  I don't mean a church building.  I mean the people of God.  It is a place of beauty and safety.  It is like our back yard.  It is just a nice place to be.     

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