God, Grace and Tomato Guy

"Tomato Guy"

What does God need?  Does He need workers for the fields that are “white unto harvest?” Perhaps He needs companionship, or maybe he needs worship. Nah.  It stands to reason that the Absolute does not need anything. Consider “Tomato Guy.”

In Oklahoma there are lots and lots of Tomato Guys. If you live in Oklahoma I’m sure you are familiar with your own local version of Tomato Guy.

Tomato Guy is an autonomous member of an adventitious cult of Oklahoma gardeners.  Typically they purchase a cluster of very small tomato plants (3-for-the-price-of-1 deal just too good to resist).    If conditions are only mildly favorable, and when the plants are appropriately watered, you can expect a bumper crop of tomatoes. Tomato Guy is very proud of his bounty and he rarely appears anywhere without lavishing sacks, boxes, or plastic bags of tomatoes.

SIDE NOTE: For purposes of food tariffs the Supreme Court has ruled that tomatoes are vegetables.  Yes, I know, you watched some game show where some guy said they are fruits. I’m going with the Supreme Court; let’s keep this nice and legal, okay.

Growing up in Apache, Oklahoma I first learned about Tomato Guy.  My dad was the town barber and we very rarely went without gifts of fresh tomatoes. Of course we encountered Okra Guy and Green Peppers Guy too.

Um, is there a point here?

Yes. Picture this. If I go to Tomato Guy’s house and offer him a couple of puny tomatoes, I’m going to look silly. His wife is canning tomatoes, there are tomatoes galore on all windowsills, and dozens are bagged, ready for delivery at Sunday school. Tomato Guy is all-sufficient (regarding tomatoes).

So too we must consider the All-Sufficiency of God. He is perfect. He is the very essence of completeness. Creation itself cannot add to God, and neither can our moral goodness. I need, you need, but God does not need.

Because God is all-sufficient, complete, eternal and perfect the truth is this — God needs nothing.

Not only is it important that we wrap our faith around this concept, we must understand this — our failures cannot detract from who God is either.  And who is God? The Scripture says that God is love (I John 4:8), and God offers grace upon grace (John 1:16). For illustrative purposes I’ll compare God to Tomato Guy (yes, awkward).

From the abundance of God’s garden, moreover, from the fullness of who God is He gives us love. That’s what grace means; it means that God is giving and providing His own bounty. God’s love and acceptance is the free gift of God’s love.

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Can you find a more powerful statement of faith in the entire Bible?

As a teenager my understanding of Jesus was miniscule. My whole Christology was viewing Jesus as God’s example for the world. “See this guy, my only son? Try your best to live like Him and we’ll add up the points when you die, hopefully life will be graded on a curve and you can get into heaven.” Therefore I assumed that the whole goal of life is to be a “good person” and lead a moral life. But that’s not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Good News is that we receive the love of God as a gift.

What’s the moral life all about? It’s not the means of gaining God’s favor. It is a response to God’s favor. The “good man” cannot earn the grace of God, the grace of God makes a man good.  Give up! Stop trying to earn God’s love, you can’t do it. You can’t add to God.  We cannot allow ourselves to make the mistake of bartering for tomatoes with God. “If I give Him tomatoes then He will give me tomatoes.” He doesn’t need our tomatoes.

Dealing With Sin

What about our sin, our rebellion, our failure… is the love of God big enough to overcome our shortcomings? We see in this Scripture, Romans 8, that Paul knows that size of God’s love. It is “the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When we place our faith in Christ Jesus, not even sin (which falls under the “anything else in all of creation” clause) can separate us from the love of God.

DO you want to be more alive than you’ve ever been before? Then get in on the joyful response to God’s love? Become a conduit of God’s grace and favor. Christians I exhort you, give it away, there’s plenty more where that came from.

Gee, I never thought I would worship God while thinking about Tomato Guy.

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