WHAT CAN STRAWBERRIES TEACH US
Objective: The effects of the Gospel, when proclaimed and obeyed, can spread like wild fire!
You are aware that there are characteristics of many fruits & vegetables which we can learn from and transfer in different ways to life.
“A Lesson from the Onion,” “A Lesson from Asparagus.,” “A Lesson from the Potato” and “A Lesson from Garlic.” We’ve seen how Christ’s love infiltrates our environment just like an onion does; how real ministry and a sense of brokenness may not look good or be easy to swallow but it is sure good for our spiritual health (like asparagus); how joy and celebration have many expressions, similar to the many ways we eat potatoes; and how death and defeat can be kept away by inviting Jesus Christ into your life.
Today’s sermon is What can Strawberries teach us?
One of my favorite fruits is the strawberry. When I was growing up my mother grew them in the garden -- they were always readily available. This past summer while at my parsonage I looked at one of the flower beds. I recognized a ground covering had put in it and it seemed very out of place. What was done was take strawberry plants a few years ago and put them in the bed. By this year they had spread so much that they covered the ground of the area. They were dense and thick.
Strawberries are like that, unless they are checked and purged they will take over an area. They spread and spread; resulting in a grand harvest with very sweet results.
There is an application there to our Christian life. Just as the strawberry plant will spread over an area so our Christian presence is capable of spreading in the place where we are located. It’s sort of the “bloom where you are planted” idea; but it happens naturally when we are fertilized by the Holy Spirit’s presence. Matthew 9:35-38 alludes to this.
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Our Influence Surpasses Our Awareness (v. 35)
The strawberries in my flower bed far surpassed my expectations. They actually were in danger of surpassing the boundaries of the flower bed itself at one point. They had to be purged.
As a Christian your Christian influence can far surpass your expectations too. It is in the daily routine of life that the dynamic of your faith can really make an impact. As you live your faith through all the towns and villages (v. 35) you reveal Jesus in a way which is remarkable and markable. You become salt and light in your community -- never fully aware of the effect you can have.
Most of you are probably very familiar with the movie It’s a Wonderful Life; it is about a common average Joe who thinks he has wasted his life and decides to end it. He cannot see how he has been a positive force in the world at all.
To counter this God sends a angel. The angel shows him what his community would have been like had he not existed. And the man in question is given a unique opportunity to see his far reaching influence for good.
You can learn a lesson from the movie. When you are a disciple of Jesus you too have influence which surpasses your expectations. That is why it is critical that we stay close to the Savior.
1. Our influence surpasses our awareness (35)
Our Compassion Exceeds Our Reach (v. 36)
My strawberry bed grew and grew. Without oversight it could have become so dense that it even began to choke itself. The influence of God’s Spirit in a surrendered life is much like that. It will grow and grow and grow. Especially as it relates to compassion.
Have you ever seen a hard hearted Spirit-filled disciple? No. It is impossible. If we are like Jesus we are people of compassion. that means we come to the aid of those who are in need. Sometimes the pain is of their own doing (their own fault), at other times it may be the normal course of life, or the consequence of another person’s injustice, yet in each case it is ultimately the result of sin.
Jesus saw such people as harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (v. 36) his priority was to come to their aid not inflict them with guilt.
Jesus was moved by many things. But there are some things that moved Jesus more than others:
1. He was moved with compassion by the world’s pain (Mt. 14:14)
2. He was moved with compassion by the world’s sorrow (Lk 7:13)
3. He was moved with compassion by the world’s hunger (Mt. 15:32)
4. He was moved with compassion by the world’s loneliness (Mk 1:41)
5. He was moved with compassion by the world’s bewilderment (Mt. 9:36)
In each case he called on his power to alleviate the need. Guess what -- the Church is that power today and we are being called on to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a compassionate way. We are to be people of compassion.
As we follow the Savior, His compassion in us will spill over in very powerful ways to others. Just as my strawberries spilled over their assumed boundaries.
1. Our influence surpasses our awareness (35)
2. Our compassion exceeds our reach (36)
Our Obedience Increases The Kingdom (v. 37-38)
Our influence and our compassion are only realized when we walk in obedience and respond in love to Christ’s call. You are the answer to the 1st century prayer of Jesus. As you choose to serve him rather than serve yourself you will be amazed at the rewards and blessings which will come your way. There is no better life than a life lived in the center of God’s will.
In v. 37-38 Jesus hangs out a “Help Wanted” sign. He calls for laborers and suggests a great harvest for those who respond.
In fact, there are a few things from this that we can be sure of:
• 1 - The harvest will never be reaped w/o reapers to reap it.
• 2 - Christ needs people! Even prayer is not enough!
• 3 - There is someone that each of us can - and must - bring to God.
• 4 - Those which respond in obedience are the ones which will reap the harvest. When we choose to go into the fields we will see the harvest come.
My strawberries grew and populated in significant numbers. More than I could have ever imagined. God too wants to populate His kingdom. He wants to fill his house. If we obey we will see what Jesus sees, goes where Jesus goes, and feel what Jesus feels. Just like the strawberry garden, we will be surprised at the increase.