The world-class botanical garden across the street from our church was the setting for an all-church community gathering. As I walked around the gardens greeting people I have known for years, catching up with those I hadn’t seen recently, and enjoying the beautiful surroundings cared for by people who know and love plants, I realized that the evening was rich with symbols of how the church is supposed to function—a little hint of heaven on earth.
A garden is a place where each plant is placed in an environment in which it will thrive. Gardeners prepare the soil, protect the plants from pests, and make sure each one receives the food, water, and sunlight it needs. The result is a beautiful, colorful, and fragrant place for people to enjoy.
Like a garden, church is meant to be a place where everyone works together for the glory of God and the good of all; a place where everyone flourishes because we are living in a safe environment; a place where people are cared for according to their needs; where each of us does work we love—work that benefits others (1 Cor. 14:26).
Like well-cared-for plants, people growing in a healthy environment have a sweet fragrance that draws people to God by displaying the beauty of His love. The church is not perfect, but it really is a hint of heaven.
How can you promote the health of your church? Ask God to help you serve others as Christ serves us. Serve in a role that matches your skills and interests. Listen well to others and pray for them.
Hearts fragrant with the love of Christ display His beauty.
Corinth, the destination of this letter, was located about fifty miles from Athens in the isthmus that connects northern Greece with the Peloponnesus of southern Greece. This strategic location made Corinth a bustling trade center and an important shipping port. Corinth was also the home of the Isthmian Games, an athletic competition in the ancient world that was second only to the ancient Olympics. This may explain Paul’s use of athletic illustrations in his first letter to the Corinthians (see 1 Cor. 9:24–27).