Apples and Pears
Prayer Pairs #3
The saying goes, ‘You can’t compare Apples and Pears’. Depending on where you live you might recognise this saying in an alternative such as ‘Apples and Oranges’ or ‘Apples and Bananas’. Whichever version you’re familiar with, the meaning of the pairing of these words is one of comparison. Everyone knows that an apple is not the same as a pear. The simple analogy is often used in business or commercial settings to compare two prices or two products. There’s a financial incentive in distilling down like for like until you reach a level where a comparison can be made which will inform a sensible financial choice.
When buying a house, and narrowing the options down to two choices, we know two houses will not be identical. We’re comparing an apple and a pear, so we make lists of comparisons and keep track of the advantages of each on a set of balancing scales. Will the apple or the pear win? Which will be the better choice?
Applying Apples and Pears thinking into our own thinking can lead us into difficult spaces. This method of comparison invites us into competition with others. We know we’re different from each other, but which one of us is better? A better follower of Jesus, better at praying, better at reading the Bible, better at caring for others, better at preaching or preparing worship. When we subscribe to this thinking we find ourselves measuring ourselves against others. It can feel like we’re in a push and shove to be the first to climb to the top of a spiritual ladder.
We have good company in this comparative thinking. Jesus’ disciples spent energy on this very issue. Which one of them was the greatest disciple? It sounds like there was significant jostling amongst them to claim this prize. It wasn’t good enough for them to be in Jesus’ inner circle, one of them needed to be the best, the closest, the greatest, the favoured.
About this time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus called for a child to come over and stand near him. Then he said:
I promise you this. If you don't change and become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. But if you are as humble as this child, you are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And when you welcome one of these children because of me, you welcome me.
Matthew 18:1-5 (CEV)
Does it matter if we’re an apple or a pear? Does it matter if we’re a strawberry or a peach? Does it matter if we’re all different? We are all people. And God loves all the people of this world.
Scientists have traced the genome sequencing of apples and pears and found out that 35-50 million years ago they evolved from a common ancestor. 20 million years before that they share a common ancestor with peaches and strawberries.
It’s possible to enjoy apples because they’re apples, pears because they’re pears, peaches because they’re peaches and strawberries because they’re strawberries.
Instead of comparision we aim for humility, grace, acceptance, inclusion and love for all.
God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them.
Matthew 7:2 (CEV)
I’m well aware in the middle of our New Zealand winter that this week’s prayer room has a seasonal feel to it and if you’re in the northern hemisphere you’ll not be biting into apples or pears, but hopefully enjoying a juicy peach or a strawberry. The prayers today are not written fresh for this offering. Instead I bring you four different fruity prayers from my collection of 5 Senses to Prayer.
Wherever you are in the world, I hope you find time in the next few days to sit and enjoy a piece of fruit. Take time to really look at your fruit. Savour the taste. Breathe in the fragrance. Notice the texture. Listen to the crunch as you bite into the skin or listen to the squelch of juice. Use your senses to focus on the joy and wonder of the fruit and turn your thoughts into a prayer, not of comparison but of humble gratitude and delight.
On the journey
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