Gardens versus garden centers

No weddings ever take place in the garden centers at Lowe’s. It begs the question —- Why not? There are hundreds of flowers and plants. Unlike my garden, they dispose of the ones that might be struggling or have gone dormant.

Shouldn’t that be the ideal venue for a classy event?

Here are a few differences between a garden and a place that displays flowers for sale. First, they are not arranged in a “coming together” look, but rather in neat rows of like with like.

What does God look for when his family comes together? The word translated for “church” in the Bible is “ekklesia,” which literally means “called out.” When the church comes together, we are called out of our neighborhoods, jobs, and other circles whose members might not share our faith.

So when we come together as God’s family, does it look like a beautiful and diverse setting? Sadly, not always.

One of our brethren recently lamented, “We go to church like we go to a movie.” Is there real sharing, or “fellowship” taking place when we come together? Or is it as impersonal as going to the theater? Can this one-directional meeting really be remotely similar to the example in the New Testament?

 “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46, NKJV).

Family members who have known each other for half a century meet and greet one another, often having lunch together afterward. Do we invite new members or visitors to join us? Do we make a point to look for new faces, and greet them? Do we get to know the ones who seem to be loners?

There is one sweet young Christian lady in my town who regularly asks on social media, “How may I pray for you today?” Surely this must be a “woman after God’s own heart!”

It’s like asking the person next to you in the movie theater if she would like a refill on her popcorn. Only Molly doesn’t treat the church like the crowd at the theater! She knows that we all have different needs, but opens her heart to all. We come together in a beautiful arrangement of color and form, much like a garden. Some may have needs that others can fill. All of us have a desire to belong!

Back at the Lowe’s garden center, the calibrachoas look great: some are pink, others are yellow with white stripes, but they are all calibrachoas. This is why a “garden center” is not a garden. There is no diversity in the separate groupings of plants. They are grouped this way to make them easy to sell, not for visual beauty. There is no fellowship among those plants that are not related. This should not be the standard in the church of the living God!

My calibrachoas are growing with portulaca, tomatoes and daylilies. Maybe the tomato plant isn’t all that pretty either, but it has value of a different type….a very tasty value!

When we come together as a church, as the “called out,” we should focus on what we have in common as family members. Age, color, social standing, economic status, and other differences should mean nothing.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

When we value each other as members of the Lord’s church, we begin to know true fellowship.

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