Is a banana a fruit or a vegetable?
The answer is simple, right? We all know a banana is a fruit…
Or is it?
On a recent visit to a banana plantation on the isle of Guadeloupe, I was shocked to learn that a banana is not a fruit at all, and the tall, leafy plant that it grows on is not even a tree! Rather, the plant is technically considered an herb, and the “fruit” is actually better classified as a vegetable!
Each banana plant can only produce one flower. The banana plant dies after this. It can thus be said that the banana plant gives its entire life for just one flower.
It all made me think about the Great Commission. We are all called to share the gospel (“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matt 28:19-20 NIV), but most of us are not evangelists. Most of us are, rather, banana plants. We may only produce one or two flowers for the Lord in our lifetimes.
And that’s okay. It isn’t a numbers game. The evangelists may lead hundreds of people to Christ, but most of them only have access to people who actually come to their meetings. In addition, it is only a select number of people who will give their hearts to Christ after hearing the gospel only one time, and these people will need plenty of encouragement and guidance in order to continue on with their walk with Christ, something that most evangelists just don’t have the time to do. Most of us will probably never hold an evangelistic series, yet in our own, individual ways, we can reach people who would never think of attending an evangelistic series. We can be there to work with them, to encouragement them, to give them guidance and to answer their Bible questions.
It is a lot of work for just one person, but then, the Banana plant puts a lot of effort into one flower, too! In the same way that the Banana plant makes producing just one flower its only priority, we need to make the Great Commission our one purpose, even if it means that we succeed only once in bringing someone to the Lord.
But is all the effort really worth it?
The answer again comes from the Banana plant. You see, that one flower from the Banana plant doesn’t just produce one banana. It produces one bunch of bananas, and that bunch may mean as many as 400! So when we make the great commission our priority, even if we only succeed in bringing one person to Christ, we never know but that one person will go on to produce 400 more!
The Banana plant does have some help. In order for a healthy bunch of bananas to be produced, it requires the help of a Banana farmer who comes along at the right time, trims off the remains of the flower and covers the bunch in a blue plastic bag to keep out the bugs and to prevent the bananas from ripening too fast.
In the same way, we have the Master Banana former: We have God’s Spirit to help us. Even by pouring everything we have into the Great Commision, we continue to need the Holy Spirit to cover our spiritual offspring and to protect them and keep them growing at the right speed. That’s the good news. We don’t do it alone!
But the story doesn’t end here. After the bunch of bananas is harvested, the plant itself dies. The root system, however, doesn’t. Other Banana plants will grow up from the root system.
When we put our priority into bringing one person to Christ, we complete our purpose for that one; but if we are properly rooted in Jesus, then we have the potential to send up other shoots, to produce more “flowers for Christ”!
The story just keeps getting better and better!
So just how do we make the Great Commission our #1 priority?
The Bible gives us some clues:
1. Study God’s Word: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15 NIV)
2. Be proud to be God’s child: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Rom. 1:16 NIV)
3. Know who you are in Christ. You are His handiwork, His hands and feet: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10 NIV)
4. Always be prepared: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)
5. Pray for God to open doors: “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'” (Matt. 9:37-38 NIV)
Don’t have an evangelistic calling on your life? Then take lessons from the Banana plant. Make it your #1 priority to bring someone to Christ. But don’t forget to stay rooted and grounded in Jesus by studying God’s Word, by knowing who you are in Him, being proud to be God’s child, praying for God to open the doors, and always being prepared. When you do these things, then you will truly be able to bring more and more people to the Lord.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.