Theoretically, roses have prickles and not thorns but for this post we will refer to the sharp barbs on most rose bushes as thorns.
Due to the abundant spring rains we have had, this has been an especially good year for flowers and gardening in general. A couple of years ago I bought a very inexpensive rose root and all the label said was “rambling rose”. I stuck it in the ground in front of a window and wondered what would come of it. I even bought a trellis thinking that if it “rambled” it could wind around the trellis. I have been amazed at the rapid growth of this particular rose. It has reached eight feet and continues to grow in many directions.
This past week we had some strong winds. When I looked out the window I noticed that the wind had lifted up the trellis and the rose bush had fallen with its many tendrils on the ground. Red petals were everywhere and I had a job on my hands trying to get the trellis repositioned and the tendrils somehow back on the trellis.
That was when I began to experience the many pricks from the stems. As beautiful as this rose bush was, it had a God-given protection system that made it quite a formidable task to get in back up. I even found myself getting annoyed by the many prickles and the blood spots on my hands and arms.
Afterward I began to wonder about the topic of this blog. Why do roses have thorns? The rose is one of the most sought after and beautiful of God’s flowers. Most flowering plants do not have thorns with the exception of raspberries and blackberries. The reason for this anomaly in creation is that rose petals are sweet to the taste. Originally animals loved to eat roses and the thorns prevented them from doing so. God protected the rose in creation.
There is one scripture in the Bible in the Song of Solomon that refers to Christ as a rose. “I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys.” (SOS 2:1). What a lovely way to think of our Lord and Savior. Anyone who has come to know Him personally knows how sweet He is. I thought of the crown of thorns that was placed on His head at Calvary and the red blood that flowed.
As I studied further about the beautiful rose and its uniqueness of having thorns, I had some further thoughts. The true Church of the Living God is a holy and separated people. They have standards of behavior and dress that distinguish them from others. There is a beauty in holiness, just as the rose has a unique beauty and has been the subject of painters, poets and authors from the beginning of time.
It is only in the last 100 years that holiness standards have come under the onslaught of hell. In the 19th and early 20th it was easy to distinguish a Christian as they walked down the street. Now, men and women who choose to live godly lives and not to follow the trends and fashions of this world are labeled “religious” or “legalistic”. But the rose, undaunted, continues to bloom in the midst of crooked and perverse generation that does not understand the ways of God.
Within the last 50 years great advances have been made in modifying genetically almost every plant and flower. Finally a hybrid rose was developed that did not have thorns. Outwardly it looks the same and anyone might think that this would certainly be preferable to the annoyance of experiencing the prickles as I did this past week.
However, I am convinced that the thorns are God’s protection for the church. These standards of holiness are like a hedge of protection that keep beasts from devouring the rose. In the 1990’s many of the Pentecostal churches began to feel that the thorns of holiness standards in the church were hindering the world from being attracted to experiencing the born-again plan of salvation. So they began to modify the appearance of the church so that outsiders would feel more “casual” and “comfortable”. They removed the thorns.
The hybrid rose and the original rose may both have similar blooms, but I’ve been told the fragrance of the hybrid is not the same as the natural. Our worship and prayer goes up to God as a sweet fragrance. Let our service to Him be genuine and pleasing in the sight of God and man.