"You who dwell in the gardens with friends in attendance, let me hear your voice!"
~ Song of Songs 8:13
Although my great grandfather was already a victim of what the old timers called, "hardening of the arteries," I knew that he was someone special in our family as a child. His habit of wiping silverware off before eating with his napkin, lining peas upon his knife to eat, and his love for ice cream, forever is present in my mind.
I learned from family that neighbors would tease him by saying, "Clarence, I saw a weed in your field."
Of course they didn't. He was meticulous about many things. His fields were nothing more than an extension of his skill for gardening, just on a larger scale.
The church is much like that where saints and sinners seem to be planted, and God tries to cultivate while battling seasons that are both dry and wet, and where harvests are unpredictable.
In my life I have encountered saints that have blossomed and provided the example of Christ. They are like beautiful flowers that onlookers want to stop and take note. This garden is often how people see Christ, and these folks are among the best view. However, I have also viewed some real weeds in that garden, and you just have to wonder why they are there as well.
The difference between the garden of my grandfather and the garden of the church is that God's garden is the church. This garden should be where the voice of God is heard and where people come together as one. It should be a place where sinners are not removed, but where they may find a place that allows for grace and change.
It's true, my grandfather would quickly remove the weed, however, in the church that should not be the case. It's not so much that the sinner be identified in the garden of God, but that there be nurturing and cultivation so that even the sinner has the opportunity to grow and mature.
It's like that grab bag of seeds we would get at the hardware store years ago. You would plant it and have a mystery garden. Only when the plant matured would you discover what was in the bag.
Wheat and tares, both are items that grow in Biblical fields. One thing we must not forget, they all coexist in the garden until God decides the harvest.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.