Plenty of Food
However, with lockdown, I have been enjoying (looking at) the garden more, and have come to appreciate better the marvel of how things grow.
I am also surprised how fast changes take place: the leaves in spring, the flowers, and in no time at all (it seems) the flowers die and the fruits start to develop.
The words of Paul at Iconium come to mind:
“God has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:16-17)
The process of growing, flowering, fruiting gives us our food, as well as much pleasure en route as we see the pretty colours.
It is part of the cycle of life. And we are part of that too. We are born, we grow up, we flourish for a bit and hopefully produce some good fruit, and then we die!
What is the purpose? As far as plants are concerned, it is to carry on the plant life. The main plant dies, but the fruits produce seeds, the seeds grow, so the plant as a species carries on.
And what of ourselves? The same could apply to us, that we live on in our children!
But it is more than that. For human beings, the purpose is greater and grander.
At the time of Jesus, there were two schools of thought.
There were the Sadducees, who believed that this life is all. Death is the end.
There were the Pharisees, who believed that those who had died would be raised by God to new life.
Jesus had confrontations with both the Sadducees and the Pharisees. But when he was challenged over the subject of life after death, he sided with the Pharisees. However, he produced an argument, as far as I am aware, a new argument. Certainly, I have never seen it used elsewhere before Jesus used it. To the Sadducees, Jesus said this:
“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
… about the resurrection of the dead — have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matthew 22:29,31,32)
Now, my understanding of what Jesus meant is this. The famous ancestors of the Jewish nation, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – all long dead – had a relationship with God. It doesn’t make sense of the world or of that relationship, if death puts a final end to that. If God is eternal, if God worked with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their God, then He must have a purpose with them beyond this life.
And that is our belief too. It is why we gather as a church, it is why we have the Life Training Club — to train us for a good, God-serving life now, and for a purpose in life that has greater meaning for the future. “Life Training” is for us all. Someone was once asked “When did your education end?”. He replied, “It didn’t end. I’m still learning!”
That commitment should be for each of us. And likewise, the hope of a bright future in the Kingdom of God, for as it says in John’s Gospel:
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)