The Kingdom of God: a rose by any other name

By May 8, 2014 The Well No Comments

A Rose by any other name . . .
By Randy Edwards

As a gardener I am a complete failure. My wife would be the first to affirm such an assessment. So when we moved out of our 2-bedroom unit in the city into a house with lawns and gardens last year, I made a deal with her. I would look after the pool and the lawns, and she would look after the gardens. Why? Because I am absolutely hopeless in flower gardens.

My biggest problem is that I have trouble distinguishing between a “flower” and a “weed.” This undoubtedly stemmed (pardon the pun) from my early childhood where I unwittingly picked a dandelion from our lawn and presented it to my mother as a decorative flower for her counter top. You see my mother WAS a gardener and she prided herself on her magnificent gardens that always surrounded the well-manicured lawns. Me, I was just an admirer of pretty colours and didn’t understand the finer points of gardening.

So what do we do with flowers that grow outside the garden? I soon learned that such flowers were called “weeds” and that the lawn mower was designed, in part, to get rid of such weeds, even if they looked very much like flowers. A garden had very distinct boundaries, and flowers were only flowers if they grew within the confines of those boundaries. My problem is that I quite liked the colours and shapes of the dandelion. Its delicate little yellow flowers looked, to me, just as pretty as some of the other flowers found in the garden proper. To me, a flower is a flower, no matter where it is located, and a “rose by any other name is still a rose.”

I wonder if we don’t approach the work of God in the same way. Growing up in the church I was often led to believe that God only works in the church (just like my mother’s garden is the only place one can find flowers). However, I often observed people living out the values of God outside the church; like my mum, some Christians often tried to convince me that such people were not flowers because flowers only grew in the “garden”, yet, like the dandelions, their actions towards others were beautiful and seemed to reflect the very nature of the God I had come to know and love.

Wanting to be a good gardener for God, I probably should have run the mower over these impostors, yet the parable of Jesus about wheat and the weeds keeps challenging my view of gardening. He encouraged his followers not to try and destroy the “weeds” but rather to let all the plants grow together in the world. Is it possible that some of God’s flowers are actually growing outside the fence-lines of the church? If so, maybe we should “stop and smell the roses” of the Kingdom, wherever they grow. Better yet, maybe we should water them so that the whole world can enjoy their beauty.