I’m a plant snob. At least that’s what a friend calls me. She calls me that because I use the botanical names of plants instead of their common names.
Botanical names are Latin names of plants that are the same everywhere. People in Italy, Brazil, the United States… all across the world refer to the same plant with the same name when they use botanical names. You can learn a lot about some plants by their botanical names. The plant in the photo to the left is Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’. It’s a member of Hydrangea family of shrubs, and its blooms are shaped in “panicle” forms, as in “paniculata”. Plus, it blooms in the heat of August instead of in the spring like most other Hydrangeas. Thus, the name ‘Tardiva’, as in tardy, or late.
The botanical name of the Dwarf Yaupon Holly in the background of the photo to the right has an interesting story. The name Ilex vomitoria nana means just what it sounds like. Native Americans had rite of passage rituals for their adolescent males. They made a tea they called “Black Drink” using the leaves of the plant. The tea, which usually caused considerable vomiting and diarrhea, was then given to the youngster to drink. If he succeeded in drinking the tea and keeping it down, he was considered a man.
The gardenia, known by it’s botanical name as Gardenia jasminoides, is named for its sweet, jasmine-like fragrance.
The Cockscomb has a descriptive common name and a descriptive botanical name. The common name compares its appearance with the “comb” on a rooster’s head. The botanical name, Celosia plumosa, describes the plume shape of the blooms.
Then there are some plants I’m irresistibly drawn to because they share my name, like this Hosta Janet.
The early followers of Christ began to be called “Christians,” which literally translated means “little Christs.” Being a Christian, it would serve me well to remember that I’m supposed to be a “little Christ”. Just like the botanical names of plants give some insight to their characteristics, I should display the same characteristics as Christ.
Unfortunately I fall far short of the name I’ve been given. I don’t magically take on the characteristics of Christ just because I’m called a Christian. But, because I am a Christian I’m supposed to be the mirror God uses to show those who don’t know Him exactly what He looks like.
The people who walked with Jesus got an honest-to-goodness glimpse of God. When I see what the Bible tells about Jesus, I see the characteristics I’m supposed to display. The people who spend time with me ought to get an honest-to-goodness glimpse of God.
At least that’s what they ought to see. Sounds pretty tough. Almost impossible. Almost. If I try it on my own it’s absolutely impossible. But God doesn’t want me doing it on my own. He wants to do it for me. He wants to do it through me. All I have to do is get myself out of His way.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard — things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good — crucified. (Galatians 5:22-24, MSG)