Thursday, January 16, 2014

God: The Master Gardener

In the next few weeks, I'd like to explore a topic that recurs frequently in scripture: God as the gardener of our souls.  At creation, God placed mankind in a garden.  There, in the peaceful beauty of a garden, God walked and talked with man.  Later, God refers to his chosen people as a vine which he had cultivated. Consider these passages from scripture:    

  • In Jeremiah 2:21, God speaks of Jerusalem as a vine:  "Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?"
  • In Malachi 3:10-12, God offers restoration to his people: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hostsAnd all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts."
  • In John 15:1-8, Jesus identifies himself as the vine: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."

To extend these images further, I'd like to focus on the many tasks in our souls undertaken by the rough-yet-gentle hand of God.  God, as the master gardener, surely works to prepare our hearts to receive the truth, to provide the nourishment needed for growth, to remove the weeds that would choke fledgling life, to support the growing plant, to protect the plant from debilitating disease, to prune branches that aren't productive, and to produce fruit that benefits others.       

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