The tall, brightly colored flower that we call the sunflower provides us with an edible seed and oil that can be used for cooking and as a part of salad dressings. But this flower also provides us with spiritual inspiration. In France, the word for sunflower is tournesol, a word that means “turns with the sun.” The reason for this name is that, in their bud phase, sunflowers literally seek out and face the sun, a trait known as heliotropism. The young flowers face the east at dawn and then move throughout the day so that they continually face the sun. Why do they do this? Each sunflower plant has only one flower and, because of this, it is important that the plant’s means of reproducing gets noticed by pollinators (insects). Warm flowers attract insects and by facing the sun, the flower of the young sunflower plant stays warm.
As the sunflower follows the life-giving sun, we as believers follow the life-giving Son of God, Jesus Christ. Because we believe that Jesus came and died for our sins so that we might have eternal life, we choose to follow Jesus. We follow His commands and His word, and we are called to bring others to Christ. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says to His disciples, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” We are called to spread the Gospel to all nations with the goal of making disciples of all people, the goal of helping others to experience the true life-change that comes only when they choose to follow the Son.
But making disciples of others requires more than just knowing the right words to say. It requires more than just being able to quote Scripture and explain the gift of salvation offered by God through Jesus. It requires that we reflect Jesus, that people see Jesus in us. When we reflect Jesus in the way in which we live our lives, when people see the love of Jesus in us, like the insects that are attracted to the sunflower warmed by facing the sun, those people will be attracted to Jesus. They will turn toward Him and follow Him. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 says:
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Just as following the sun helps the sunflower to reproduce, so following the Son will help us to reproduce as God uses us to bring others to Jesus, making disciples of all nations.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.