I know it’s not new but it is a great analogy to use a garden as a picture of our spiritual lives. We all wish we had these amazing and impressive gardens at our houses but if we are all honest, they never get the attention that we should give them. In fact, most of them are full of weeds and growth that we don’t want in there. So how does this compare to our spiritual lives? God is working on each and every one of us and He uses life as a tool to mold and shape us. So why do we judge others and rate sin in others lives? Or, why do we want to work on other peoples gardens for them? The only answer I can come up with is that we want our garden to be impressive and more admired than another persons garden, so we use it as a standard for others to try and copy. “If some one copies me, then I will receive the recognition.” It is felt as something good, but deep down we are using and judging others…we are belittling others for our gain.
So why do churches, especially within denominations, want to create this standard that people need to have clean and weed free gardens, spiritually speaking, to serve other people? If our spiritual lives are a journey and a process, then why are they hung out on display as if one is better than another? Do church leaders say, “Hey, until you clean your act up and get rid of that sin in your life, stop tithing to our church”. No…of course they don’t. They gladly take your money and invest it into their business. Yet, your act needs to be cleaned up to serve and invest into other people on a visible level within a church. That seems hypocritical to me. If their love is bad …so is their money.
Our lives are constantly being worked on by God and I have never run across a humble person that has said they are weed free or impervious to unwanted growth in their gardens. Now…I have heard people (pastors) try to claim that sin has no effect or handle on them. But usually that is said with their chests puffed out and in front of a congregation to prove a point of how amazingly spiritual their church is and show off what they feel they have built. Humility was not apart of the equation….. I always thought pride was a sin, right?
As Christ lives through us and makes us more like him, wouldn’t it be nice to look at other people on their journey with God and see their messy garden as a beautiful work in progress? We need to love them where they are. Wouldn’t it be nice to openly show our spiritual gardens so that others could see it and not live in shame or fear that we would be “removed from service” or be judged harshly by others? Wouldn’t it be nice if our need for a favorable perception was eliminated because people just want to love and walk with us wherever we are at in the process of ripping weeds out of our gardens? That would be nice….but it is hard to do. The perception that God only moves in church buildings is very much alive in the body. Religion is strong and hates messy gardens. It only wants perfect displays to be admired and it declares, “Look at my garden and how amazing it is!” I believe this is damaging and hurtful to the body of Christ.