The Corpse Flower (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

There is a most unusual product of God’s creation, which grows only in the regions of Sumatra. It is known as the Amorphophallus Titanium. It is a single “flower” that blooms only so seldom. The lower casing of the flower is green on the outside and a deep dark burgundy on the inside. The “stamen” on the inside resembles a large loaf of French bread. It can grow up to 20 feet in height. This oddity of nature is most peculiar in that the odor that it emits is reminiscent to that of decomposing mammal. Hence, it’s more commonly called the “Corpse Flower.”

Why would a flower like this exist? You may ask. Why would something so beautiful have diabolical undertones? Well, here is the “gruesome” truth. The fragrance of the flower draws or lures carcass-eating insects such as beetles and flesh-eating flies that are attracted to the smell of rotting meat. It is these insects that walk on the plant picking up pollen and then carrying this pollen to other plants assisting in the process of pollination. Amazingly enough, when pollination occurs the tip of the flower is at human body temperature thus furthering to deceive the unsuspecting carcass-eating insects.

Kinda weird, Kelly. What does this have to do with the religion section? Well, Christ addresses people who are like this. In Matthew 23:27-28 He says,  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

The people to whom Christ is speaking are the religious aristocracy of the day; the folks everybody assumes are holy. These are people who are feigning to be righteous yet, on the inside, deep down inside they are filled with the stench of decay. Like the flower they are attractive, yet, like the flower they represent death.

In Revelation 3:1 Christ is speaking to a church which evidences this trait. He says,  “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:  He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.’” The people of whom he speaks have a reputation for life, but that is not truly the case.

I wonder to how many present-day churches this accusation applies. Churches that “pretend” to exist for Christ. That pretend to manifest Godly qualities yet, deep down they are no different than the secular world. How many churches today would stand drenched in the torrent of this guilt? Sadly, my guess is quite a few. Many churches have lost their first love, and their sense of integrity to honor God, and the Bible. They look attractive in the guise of a church, but can only attract beetles and flies. Pretty cool for a flower to do that, but what a shame when that’s what a church does.

But all hope is not lost. Christ continues in verse 2 of the same chapter, “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.” I think Christ is saying something like, “WAKE UP! Stop only mimicking life and really live it. Repent and behave like the church you were meant to be. You still have time to change your obstinate ways.” Isn’t it just like God to allow us just a little more time to return to Him? When we do, we come out smelling like a rose.

Lord, help us not to be hypocrites.

Pretty sober words I know, but these are pretty sober times.