Thursday, April 22, 2010
Gardening in the Church
I got a call from Uncle Ron this morning. He's been working in the garden already, tilling the boxes, testing the watering system, trimming back the strawberry plants, etc. He's the master gardener in my life. We have a garden together but let me be perfectly honest with you, he is the gardener and I am the harvester. I reap the fruits of his labors. Now, I do weed here and there, and when he'll actually let me, I love to till and water and drop the seeds in the little rows as well, but he is the real deal. A true, walking green thumb. Spring is always an exciting time in the garden, as he and I anticipate a full-fledged, veggie producing masterpiece by late summer.
There is a great connection between gardening and disciple-making. The purpose of a spring planting is for that late summer harvesting. You don't drop seeds in the ground and hope they produce nothing. And you don't drop seeds in the ground and come back three months later to see what happened. No, in gardening, you plant, then you water, then you weed, then you dust, then you weed some more, add a little more water, sometimes prune and then, in the end, you enjoy the fruits or vegetables of your labor.
Same with disciple-making. This call of the church, of each believer, to go and make disciples, is not a seed throwing event. It is a purposeful, planned, intentional focus of your life. Yes, there is seed planting. But you don't plant seeds and hope they produce nothing. And you don't drop seeds of the gospel on bare soil and come back later to see what happened. No, disciple-making is an intentional soil preparing, seed planting, watering, fertilizing, weeding and harvesting call.
I'm not sure what scares people more, the seed planting or the nurturing. Is it harder to share the gospel or walk alongside new believers as they struggle against the elements to become a sturdy, firmly rooted plant? I am sure there are arguments on both sides, but bottom line - gardening is hard. So is disciple-making.
Gardening is also highly rewarding.
And so is disciple-making.
But Kristen, you're a teacher. Not all of us have that gift, so the disciple-making is really just for teachers, right?
It is for all of us. It is the call of all believers. Therefore, in all that we do, we should be intentionally seeking discipleship. Our lives should point to Christ, whether we are at the grocery store or in a classroom, at work or at home. A simple reminder of this call is found in II Timothy 2:15, where Paul says, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of truth." You could replace the word "workman" with "gardener." There is an assumption in this verse that we are working for the Lord - what is that work? Disciple-making. And unfortunately there is also an assumption that our effort in this work will either make us ashamed before the Lord or unashamed.
Uncle Ron gave me my own box last summer to plant cutting flowers. I am not the talented gardener that he is and let me tell you, there came a point in the summer that I struggled to even go to the garden because I was so ashamed of that box. It was not a lack of talent that caused my shame. It was a lack of attention. The box was overgrown with weeds that smothered out the bulbs I had planted. When I pulled the weeds, I pulled out half the plants as well and the whole project was a disaster. Great shame.
So what is the key to being an unashamed workman? Rightly dividing the Word of truth. Let me put it this way: The better I know scripture, the better workman I will be. The better I know the Word, the better disciple-maker I will be. It's actually contagious. God's Word has the inspiring ability to multiply itself. Like a great, epic film that you watch and want to tell people about, when you immerse yourself in God's Word and SEE HIM, you can't help but talk to others about HIM. It's really that simple.
So, I guess coming out of a church planting conference, I have been inspired to hone my disciple-making skills, and it starts with staying in the Word. Discipleship flows from personal growth, so let me encourage you all to purposefully get in the Word, with a desire to be a gardener that has no need to be ashamed before the Lord. That's my plan and it can be yours as well!