I love beautiful gardens. Although I appreciate walking through a temperate rain forest and admiring the natural flora, I especially appreciate a well-planted and maintained garden. And it seems that so does God. Throughout the Scriptures, garden language is used to describe God’s presence and blessing. This is powerfully seen in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And even after mankind fell from innocence and was expelled from God’s garden paradise, Eden, God’s original “Creation Mandate” still summoned mankind to Edenify the earth. Ultimately, in the new heaven/earth God’s dwelling place with mankind is described as being in a garden (Rev. 22:1-5). In fact, it seems that God went to great lengths to ensure that the earth could indeed be Edenified. Because, after God had created the universe, and He focused on our extraordinary planet, He designed our planet to have the unique qualities making lush gardens possible:
A couple of months ago, a young man was invited to our church. He was not a church goer. But the day that he turned up in our weekly Sunday morning worship service something happened to him. Although English was not his first language, and despite coming from a culture that is famously opposed to Christianity, he heard and understood clearly enough that day – and despite what he had been told all his life – that there was a God in Heaven who loved him and had been directing him throughout his life to this moment. In response to this work of the Holy Spirit he declared his surrender to Christ and was subsequently baptised in our June water baptism service. From that point, each time someone asked him how he had come to Christ, his eyes would water and he would get emotional just at the thought of how Christ had saved him. But all of this could have been derailed if it hadn’t been for the warm welcome, love, and acceptance he found in our church when he first came. It’s the stories like these that make me proud to be the pastor of our church!
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
We live in apple orchard country which is why most of us understand what’s involved in harvesting them. Each mature apple tree has low hanging fruit which is the easiest to harvest. The rest of the tree involves a bit more work to harvest – especially the high hanging fruit. In some respects, the above story is an example of harvesting ‘low hanging fruit’. The idea of harvesting an apple true is a great way to illustrate how our church can become a church that wins.