Our neighbors have a very nice garden and backyard. Since the snow melted in the spring, I have watched them till the soil, fertilize the lawn, add nutrients to the soil, till some more, plant all sorts of vegetables and beautiful garden plants, mow, weed whack, water the garden and lawn and weed and prune for hours in the hot sun. Hard and dirty work. And in a beautiful, brightly colored, backyard garden shed I have seen wheelbarrows, bags of soil, rakes and hoes, garden hoses and sprinklers, etc. enter and exit all spring and summer.
As I write this, I am looking out on a backyard that could be (should be) featured on a magazine cover. Just beautiful. And the vegetable garden? Oh my! Big, luscious, full, green plants teeming with wonderful edible delights. The neighbor on the other side has a privacy fence, but their backyard is also magnificently manicured with many beautiful features. It is obvious that they, too, have spent a lot of time and effort on it. And their front yard? Wow! I have never seen green so green.
My backyard? Not so nice.
When mowed, my lawns don’t look too bad, but when compared to my neighbors? Pffft! How embarrassing! Yet, my wife and I don’t spend much time outside and we both invest so much time and energy in our work (my wife running The Salvation Army Family Store and me leading the spiritual and philanthropic work of The Salvation Army in Sheridan), that, I suppose, we don’t consider the reward worth the labor concerning our yards. They’re good enough for us: Clean, tidy and well-mowed weeds.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul discusses a foundational truth of the Christian faith. The resurrection of the body.
He builds a case over the course of the chapter to the believers who will read the letter that:  If Jesus Christ did not raise from the dead, then belief in Him for salvation is in vain. Without a RISEN Christ, there is no Christ at all. (1Cor. 15:1-11)  If Christ is indeed risen from the dead (which He is!), how can some claim that there is no resurrection from the dead for those that believe in Him? (1 Cor. 15:12-34). Paul then explains for the rest of the chapter about what our resurrected bodies will be like after we die or when Christ comes again to reap the harvest, whichever comes first. “When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed….(vs. 37)” And then in verse 42 we read, “…the body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.”
There is a whole lot more, but you can read that on your own. Point being that just as Jesus sacrificed himself and died for our sins on the cross, and his earthly body was buried, and he raised himself from the dead three days later into an imperishable body, we too will exchange our perishable bodies for imperishable ones. Therefore, we should never worry about the work we do for the kingdom of God here on earth and wonder if we are making a difference or not.
We are called to sow the seeds of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to till the soil, water the seeds and take care of the weeds. We may never see the harvest this side of Heaven, but one day we will rejoice as we behold the garden of saved souls in paradise as a result of our earthly labors in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Verse 58 concludes the chapter by encouraging us, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
What will your heavenly garden look like?
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37)
Gary Dobney is the envoy for The Salvation Army in Sheridan.