Throughout the New Testament, the Scriptures use the metaphor of growing plants to describe the personal spiritual growth of Christ-followers. From Christ’s parable of sowing the seed of the Gospel and watching it grow with deep roots, to His framing of a Christian’s maturity in terms of producing fruit from the branches of His vine, we see individual growth framed in the context of a plant.
In fact, in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 we see the ministry described using basic gardening terms of planting, watering, and growing.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Note that at the very end of verse nine Paul switches his metaphors to construction when he calls us “God’s building” but in the phrase right before that, we are “God’s field.” The Greek text indicates that the word for “field” is “cultivated land.” What better description of a garden than cultivated land?
So, I’ve been thinking that each of us as individual spiritual plants are placed by God into a “cultivated land” of a spiritual garden. If we think of the place where individual Christians are placed together as we …grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…(2 Peter 3:18), it is, of course, the church.
One of the purposes of the earthly church is to offer each believer an environment in which to growth, mature, and multiply. Is that how you think of your church? If it is, then the logical question to ask is how are you individually treating “God’s field,” the church? How do you act within its environment?
Perhaps it is time to consider and reconsider our attitude toward the institution Christ created and left on earth to fulfill His ministry of the Great Commission of making disciples (or mature, growing, branches of His vine).
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5
For some basics in divine gardening allow me to share a fun article entitled “God’s Garden” I came across it in Nelson’s complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes – Thomas Nelson Publishers and wanted to share it with you. Read it with a smile but I challenge you to meditate on the implications in your life and your ministry within your local church… God’s cultivate land.
In growing a healthy, fruit-bearing church, try this plan.
Plant three rows of squash:
- Squash gossip
- Squash criticism.
- Squash indifference.
Plant seven rows of peas:
Plant seven heads of lettuce:
- Let us be unselfish and loyal.
- Let us be faithful to duty.
- Let us search the Scriptures.
- Let us not be weary in well-doing.
- Let us be obedient in all things.
- Let us be truthful.
- Let us love one another.
No garden is complete without turnips:
- Turn up for church.
- Turn up for meetings, in prayer, and Bible study.
- Turn up with a smile, even when things are difficult.
- Turn up with determination to do your best in God’s service.
After the planting, may you grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). And may you reap rich results.
Think about it…