The days are getting longer and brighter, so I know the traditional time is approaching for me to go to war. Once again, I fight in a campaign against dandelions. After winning the first few battles easily, before the weeds have a chance to go to seed, I think I’m the one in control. I’m much bigger and stronger than they are, I have a brain, and I have Roundup. But the enemy ranks aren’t intimidated by all the things I have. And they have something I don’t: the ability to never sleep. All they do is grow, non-stop. Then comes a morning when I wake up to a garden full of dandelions I’ve never met before, all gone to seed before I’ve finished my coffee. It doesn’t really matter how many times I kill them. As soon as I look away, they’re back, and in greater numbers.
The weird thing is, I actually like dandelion flowers. Their sunny yellow is so cheerful and happy, and I know the bees love them, too. It’s not their fault that I have a particular idea about how my back garden should look, or that my idea doesn’t include them. They’re just doing the thing they were made to do. The problem is, I don’t want them doing it here, where I had plans for other (shorter, grassier) things. So I kill them, over and over, year after year.
I’m not the only one with a plan. The world is a back garden, too, and our leaders and influencers are the gardeners. They make lots of plans for how their part of the garden should look and what they would like to grow there. They plant what they like, water what they want, and work at pulling up the weeds. And these days, in much of the world, the weeds are Christians.
Persecution of Christians is more widespread today than ever before in history and it’s not hard to see why. We’re spoiling the plan, popping up where we aren’t wanted, and growing big happy flowers in places that are supposed to be defined by uniformity. Whether it’s coming from totalitarian governments, extremist religious groups, or cultural elites, we simply won’t conform. We grow to our own, different, set of ideals. In fact, the garden we grow for is a completely different garden, and we answer to a different Gardener.
We do realise, of course, that this makes us look out of place. It doesn’t matter how beautifully a weed flowers, it’s still a weed because it’s in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing, messing up the plan. But what if the weed isn’t the problem? What if the plan is? What if the weed is actually growing to a better plan, showing a glimpse of a more beautiful reality? Could it be that the Owner of this garden has a better idea of how to grow it than our leaders and opinion-shapers?
I think He does. I think He’s planting His people all over the world for a definite purpose, growing life and beauty and healing and wholeness out of the cursed ground of Earth. Yes, it looks funny right now. These big flowers don’t conform to the even level of the grass. But the day is coming when the garden we lost at Eden – the garden these flowers represent – will once again be the garden people live in with their Maker.
Until then, we’re going to look a bit strange. We’re going to be treated like weeds. We’re even going to be rounded up and killed (as is happening in so many places today). But rest assured: as soon as you turn around, we’ll be blooming again, popping up all over the place, and going to seed. We can’t help it. There’s too much life in us.