Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Green thumb

Sometimes when my Mom comes over, she likes to walk around my backyard and see how my flowers are growing. We frequently trade plants and so our gardens literally share some common ground. She points at various flowers and marvels at how well they are doing. She acts as if I am the most talented gardener in the world, somehow forgetting that she has taught me everything I know. Then she will add that her thus-and-such plant doesn't look half as good as mine. "I'll bet you don't even fertilize it, do you??" Nope.

I could puff out my chest and proclaim, "green thumb," but it's actually simpler than that. Through trial and error, I have identified the plants that put on the most impressive bloom for the least amount of effort. I'm all about more bang for the buck.

It ain't me!

I have been dealing with a similar issue at my church. Through the ministry that I'm involved in, we have seen literally hundreds of women come to Christ in the last year. Recently, I learned our church would receive special recognition at an awards banquet hosted by our denomination for our evangelism efforts. Many people became very excited, talking about what an honor it was, etc., and pointing out that we even had higher numbers the churches in the next size category up from us. I know I heard more than once, "I'll bet we'll win again next year, too!"

Hey, guys, it ain't us!

"This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. -- Mark 4:26-28

The Holy Spirit is at work all over the place. Any of us might serve in his garden as a shovel, or plough, or sprinkling can or seed bag, but we are not making anything grow! Trust me, we're not.

Paul uses similar imagery when factions grow up in the early churches and people start placing more importance in the messenger than in the message...

1Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men? 5What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. -- 1 Corinthians 3:1-7

I'm certain I told more than one person, "I hope we don't 'win' next year. I hope all the other churches in our size category kick our butt, because that will mean that more souls are being won for Christ."

Oh yes, I am so noble, I know! But really, beyond the pleasure I have in knowing that this recognition will bring honor to our 2 pastors, who have so strongly embraced this ministry, it doesn't mean that much. It's not about us; it's not about an award; it's about the Spirit of God at work in people's lives.

The Lord Jesus Christ -- he's the one with the green thumb.

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