It’s Memorial Day weekend here in San Diego. For us natives that equates to busy roads, lost tourists, and crowded beaches. I went on a run Friday that took me passed a packed Sea World parking lot. I started to think just how blessed my wife and I are to live here. It’s not that I don’t think that just about every day, but there are those moments that you realize just how stoked you really are to live in a place this great.
Thousands and thousands of people visit here every year for a chance to get away from wherever they call home. They come here to spend big money to watch Shamu do some flip out of the water, or see the Zoo pandas munch on some bark. They come here for our weather, our food, and the inherent natural beauty that is all around. The lines at the airport for those returning home are always full of somber faces as they return to their homes in the Midwest. I don’t know how much this City spends on advertising, but it is too much. This place sells itself.
My mind wandered as it often does on my runs and it took me from the Sea World parking lot to the small group I am co-leading right now. We are discussing the ‘outside’ view of the Christian faith, and how we as believers are and should be presenting the gospel. To me personally, my faith is a lot like life in San Diego. Everyday I wake up, I feel blessed to be alive and able to commune with God. Being a Christian has made my life more full than I could have ever imagined. Sure there are difficult times and sacrifices we make. It’s not unlike paying more for housing, or dealing with an occasional earthquake. Through it all however, life is so much more beautiful to me as a believer.
So then, why doesn’t everyone want to come here? If being a Christian is so amazing, why do we have to spend so much money on advertising and promotions just to get people to see what we have to offer? Does the ‘outside’ community equate Christianity to a timeshare resort in the middle of some po-dunk Midwestern town, and we are selling it as the Caribbean?
My friend the other night brought up a beautiful analogy. He grew up on a farm here in California, and spent countless hours planting seeds and reaping harvests. He talked about how important it was to prepare the soil for planting and how it literally took months before the ground was ready for planting. Planting the seed was the easy part. The plants would grow up tall and green and be more beautiful with each passing day. We talked about how the church has spent so much time with this ‘Get Saved’ timeshare salesmen approach that we never prepared the soil. We have thrown seed out the window of our cars, shoved it down people’s throats and hoped that it would take root. Of course occasionally it does, but the harvest winds up being a plant in a field full of weeds.
I love this analogy because it brings me back to the core of what I feel is most important in life-Relationship. Relationship with believers, relationship with unbelievers, and relationship with God Himself. He models this all through scripture and shows us how beautiful life is when we are in relationship. Relationship prepares the soil, it speaks to our hearts, and it makes us realize just how fortunate we really are. Just like living in San Diego, the true beauty of the God will draw people here. Perhaps we just need to let those true colors shine through more often instead of selling timeshares.
Psalm 1:3 “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”