Thursday, July 23, 2015

Considering the Lilies: The importance of the name

True Lily

"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the  grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!                                            (Luke 12:27-28 NASB)

In case you're just stopping in, we've been considering the lilies for the last few days. We began by considering the lily bulb, and  lily propagation. Yesterday, we considered the lily's disposition. Today, we turn to the topic of true lilies.

I've learned a surprising fact about the lilies in my garden. They aren't lilies. I've called them lilies for years. The landscaper who sold them to me called them lilies, but they are simply not lilies, no matter what we've called them. As it turns out, only plants in the genus Lilium are lilies. True lilies grow from the bulb we considered earlier, with overlapping scales. Leaves grow around the stem in a spiral pattern and the flowers always have six petals and six anthers. (1) 


Daylilies, on the other hand, grow from a tuberous bulb with leaves growing in a clump at the base of the stem. Instead of six petals, the daylily flowers have three petals and three sepals. 

One of the most striking differences between lilies and daylilies is that the true lily bloom persists for a week or so but the daylily bloom only lasts a single day.

Not every flower that bears the name lily is one. In that same way, not everyone who bears the name Christian is one. In our culture, the person who attends a Christian-oriented church is called a Christian. The person who was reared in a "Christian home" is called a Christian. This is done in much the same way that a person reared in Mississippi might call themselves a Mississippian. Sometimes a person who has conservative values is called Christian. reflects our changed culture. Christian is first defined as "derived from Jesus Christ". The fourth definition is "exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ", but the remainder of the definition includes "decent, respectable" and "human, not brutal, humane". It's no wonder we're confused.

Acts 11:26 tells us that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch. It was a name given them by the Gentiles, and it was used for people who lived their lives according to Christ's teachings. They were strict adherents of The Way, people willing to die for their faith. 

These first "Christians" were people who persisted in their faith despite persecution and tremendous opposition. There was nothing casual about their faith. They were not occasional attenders or merely adopting the faith of their parents. They had staked their lives on their belief in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God.

When Jesus called people to be disciples, He told them "Follow Me." That's what disciples do. Follow their master. If we are true Christians, we are followers of Christ. We study His words and obey them. We persist in faith even in the face of opposition. We press on even when it's hard.

Disciples don't pick and choose which part of Jesus' teaching fits our thinking. If I am a Christian, I adapt my life to fit His teaching. He is my standard.

It's a matter of relationship. We serve a living Savior, a risen Lord. He is with us, by His Holy Spirit, every day, every moment. Our job is to please Him with our words, our actions, our thoughts. Are we perfect? Certainly not, but our goal is to constantly become more like Him. 

Being a Christian is not simply being decent and respectable. It's not about making moral choices. It's about laying down our lives and following Jesus every day for the rest of our lives. 

For today, let's pause to consider our own perspective on life. Am I a church-attender or a Christ-follower? Am I a moral person or one transformed by the Blood of the Lamb? 

Am I simply a decent, respectable person or am I a follower of Jesus? 

There is a difference and it makes all the difference. In this world and the next.
Our Father, who lives and reigns in Heaven, holy is your name. Show me my heart as you see it and reveal my motivations and priorities. I choose to follow Jesus. Help me to relinquish my life to you. Help me to live for you and not merely to please myself. In Jesus' name, Amen.

images courtesy of