Ah! Sunflower or The Forbidden City (part 2)
Imagine that you’re shopping, and you see a sweater that you like very much in a nice shade of sunflower yellow . It fits you (and your budget), so you place it on the counter near the cash register and announce, “I’ll take it.”
The clerk replies, “I’m sorry. Only members of the Royal Family can buy that color. May I interest you in the blue sweater instead?”
Sound implausible? The color yellow was so identified with the Chinese imperial family (a symbol of their “celestial nature”), that only they could wear it. Even the roofs of nearly all the buildings in the imperial palace complex were constructed of yellow, glazed tiles. This complex of religious, political, and residential buildings, called the Forbidden City, is surrounded by a 26′ high wall and a 20′ deep moat. Commoners and royalty were forbidden to enter without permission of the Emperor.
Thankfully, there are no walls or moats between us and God. We have access to him because of Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the cross.
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us.
Romans 5:1 The Message
We can return to the metaphor of God as sun and believers as sunflowers in the next verse in Romans 5. Now that we have access to God, we can be in His presence and worship Him.
We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
Romans 5:2 The Message
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! . . .Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (The Message)
If we are like sunflowers facing the east, toward God, we are becoming “brighter and more beautiful” because He is not only sharing his presence with us, but his “celestial nature.” The restrictions of imperial China are long gone. We common sunflowers are allowed to wear yellow, but our color is a gift of the sun (not a sweater we buy in a store). When the sun shines on a sunflower, the flower absorbs all the other color wavelengths (think rainbow) and reflects yellow. So we see golden, yellow flowers.
“We were created to reflect God’s glory, born to bear his image, and he ransomed us to reflect that glory again. ”
Waking the Dead by John Eldredge
God loved us enough to send his Son
- to reestablish access to Him,
- to restore relationship with us,
- so we might reflect his glory.
The Lord delights in seeing us become more like Him and therefore a better version of ourselves–a more wonderful sunflower.
The glory of God is man fully alive. St. Irenaeus
I can imagine the Lord shining on us, saying “Ah! Sunflower!”
background photo by Barb Briggs
Forbidden City photo by Pete Stewart from Perth, Australia