The Big Picture
A good photograph is 1% equipment (a good camera), 1% skill (knowing how to work the camera), 1% composition (what to take a picture of), and 97% luck. It is my contention that when God wants me to capture something, He puts it right in front of me and says, “Shoot!” The picture above is one of those shots. It was taken on a beautiful summer morning and the light that was cast across the field really shows the variety of beautiful plants in our front yard; every one of them put there by God. I know people who would look at our front yard and say, “That mess needs to be mown.” These are the folks who look at the big picture and judge the whole, without considering the parts.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. (Isaiah 61:1b-3 NIV)
The Church, in the big picture, is like my front yard; filled with variety. Each plant is cultivated by God for a specific purpose. Some plants flower and provide nectar for bugs and birds; some grow to provide seeds and others give shelter. There are those with in the Body of Christ who advocate for Christians to live in a pristine and sterile environment. These would have us mow it down, so it looks nice to those on the outside. The truth is; they don’t really care what outsiders think, they just don’t like the mess. They want the Church to be perfect and refuse to admit that it isn’t. Life is packed with disorder; that is just reality. When we mow God’s Garden of the church what outsiders really see is a rigid, empty and fruitless desert. We all have different gifts to offer each other, as well as to those on the outside. But, if we do the cutting ourselves, we will end up barren. We must trust God to care for His Garden.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2)
Notice something very important in Jesus’ statement; He cuts the fruitless branch off, but He prunes the fruitful. He does not get rid of the good plant; He cultivates it so it will grow! Left uninhibited, the Christian life will grow so far then it will stagnate. God gives careful attention to each soul in His Garden, so it will grow and flourish. He does not mow the whole thing down and expect a uniform crop. We are the plantings of the Lord, meant to display His splendor. The big picture should show His variety and beauty. Jesus frees us from the captivity of sin and encourages us to grow. Do we really think that each of us is supposed to grow at the same rate and bear the same kind of fruit? What do you think? When all the elements of a good picture are in front of you, do you want to capture a field where every plant is the same? Or would you rather see God’s diverse splendor in the Garden that is His Church?