Verb: to prepare or prepare and use for the raising of crops, to loosen or break up the soil about (growing plants), to foster the growth of, to improve by labor, care, or study, to refine, to encourage

Spring has sprung in the Southern Hemisphere and as such it was time to sow some seeds for my crop of nasturtiums.  I call it a crop, because I grow nasturtiums for the edible flowers they produce.  Living in what is practically a desert, my philosophy is not to waste precious water on any plant, unless it’s useful in some way.

But as any gardener knows, there is always a lot of preparation needed before you even get to put seed in the ground.  Weeding and feeding, turning the soil and preparing the seed bed takes time and effort, but omitting these crucial steps leads to disappointment down the track.

Which brings me to the sad little “flower bed” I share with my neighbour. It’s little more than a bare patch, covered with bark but it yields an enormous amount of weeds.  I often find myself either weeding or applying poison to the weeds, hoping to get on top of the problem.  When I am tending to that patch, I go to the trouble to not only weed my half of the bed, but I apply weed killer or elbow grease to all the weeds.  I would like to think it’s because I am a good neighbour, but truth be told, it’s because I am not a great fan of weeding.  Those weeds, left untended, will soon go to seed and the wind will blow those seeds into the rest of my garden, making the whole situation worse.  

As I was tending those weeds the other day, the Lord spoke to me and the words of Cain came to mind.  The Lord knew that Cain had slaughtered his brother and He asked Cain where Abel was…not because He was after information, but because He was exposing the sin.  Cain answered “am I my brother’s keeper?” 

I was thinking about that, as I was tending my neighbour’s garden.  How often do we, as people professing Jesus as Lord, respond in like manner, even if only in our hearts?  

In my humble opinion, the Church has lost her voice and her authority because instead of cultivating the land, we have allowed the seed of weeds blown over the fence, to take root.  Instead of impacting the world, and setting the standard for integrity and holiness, instead of being the moral compass for our neighbourhoods, cities and nations, we have become polluted and in many cases, overtaken by the world.

Are we not our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers?  Does the Word not teach us that we are a body and that the suffering of one member is the suffering of all?  How did it happen that we, like the world at large, became a people that only look out for #1.  Me, myself and I is king.  We sing and speak about Jesus as being Lord, but do we actually live our lives as a testimony to that?  Jesus Himself said that you will be great only when you learn to be humble, yet Christians are going around tooting their horns more than ever.  How did we come to to this?

1 Corinthians 12: 25  to 27 reads:  “so that there would be no division or discord in the body [that is, lack of adaptation of the parts to each other], but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering; if one member is honored, all rejoice with it. Now you [collectively] are Christ’s body, and individually [you are] members of it [each with his own special purpose and function].” Amplified

Jesus identified Himself with us, to the point of dying on the cross and as members of His body, we are to identify with each other.  The apostle Paul admonished the Corinthians with these words:  “Brothers and sisters, when I was with you I found it impossible to speak to you as those who are spiritually mature people, for you are still dominated by the mind-set of the flesh. And because you are immature infants in Christ,  I had to nurse you and feed you with “milk,” not with the solid food of more advanced teachings, because you weren’t ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready to be fed solid food, for you are living your lives dominated by the mind-set of the flesh. Ask yourselves: Is there jealousy among you? Do you compare yourselves with others? Do you quarrel like children and end up taking sides? If so, this proves that you are living your lives centered on yourselves, dominated by the mind-set of the flesh, and behaving like unbelievers. For when you divide yourselves up in groups—a “Paul group” and an “Apollos group” – you’re acting like people without the Spirit’s influence.” (1 Corinthians 3:1 – 4TPT)

If we are honest with ourselves, aren’t we doing the same?  May the Lord have mercy on us and give us the grace we need to grow up and to do it quickly.  I long for the day when our character is more valued than our anointing, integrity is more important than a platform and Christlikeness is our highest pursuit.  Until then, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith, Who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.  Now, let’s pick up our own cross and follow Him as we allow Him to be our Lord, as well as our Saviour and Deliverer.  Let us cultivate the soil of our hearts, allowing Holy Spirit to weed and fertilise, to prune and water as He sees fit so that we will bear the fruit of our salvation.