Some thoughts about metaphors that can describe the church — not the building, but the body of believers — and our relation to the world.
Is the church like a rose garden? Have each of us as individual believers been cultivated for special color or shape or fragrance, for what our beauty — despite our thorns — can offer to brighten an otherwise drab world? Do those we encounter find us winsome, and come to appreciate what we offer?
Or are we daisies or other wildflowers, growing freely and with less restraint? Less fragrant than roses, but more plentiful, and pretty rather than beautiful? Do we bring fleeting smiles to those we encounter, but leave them unsatisfied?
Or are we dandelions? Weeds, sprouting and taking root wherever? With less to offer in terms of beauty, but still with some aesthetic value? Do we annoy those who encounter us, and make them struggle to be rid of us?
It seems we may present ourselves as one or the other at different times of our lives. And the difference may be less in our appearance than in how we respond to those who encounter us.
As roses, we can be difficult to handle, delicate and easily bruised, and our thorns can injure the unwary and keep them at a distance. As daisies, we would certainly be easier to grasp, and tougher, but we may not be suited to the innocent who would pull our petals off one by one — “He loves me, He loves me not” — heedless of its effect on us. As dandelions, we can be deep-rooted but surprising fragile at the head, especially when we’ve gone to seed … at which point a breath or a breeze can blow us apart and send those seeds flying.
And the seed is important.
You can choose your own metaphor, of course, but as I think about how important the seed is maybe in the end it would be better to be like sunflowers: reaching ever upward, sturdy and strong and bright, producing seeds of truth and love that nourish those with a taste for them.
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