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The Real Thing

Lessons from sunflowers.

Sunflowers bring much cheer with their vivid petals and striking size. They brighten countless landscapes and gardens against the backdrop of sunny, blue skies throughout the world. A symbol of happiness and joy, they resemble the sun in shape and colour and have become popular subjects in art (Van Gogh) and literature (Blake, Shelly, Tennyson).

Facts about Sunflowers

  • Their genus name is Helianthus, (Greek for sun and flower) and they belong to the daisy family.

  • The sunflower bloom is not just one flower; the centre consists of up to 2000 minute flowers which produce the seeds.

  • There are oilseed and non-oilseed sunflowers. Oilseed sunflowers produce black seeds which are high in oil content. The edible black and white seeds come from non-oilseed sunflowers.

  • Young sunflowers are heliotropic, which means they face the sun, hence the name tournesol (turns with the sun) in French.

  • They can grow up to 1.8m (6ft).*

Fake Sunflowers

When I moved into my current apartment in Limassol, a vase containing artificial sunflowers was standing in the living room. While they decorate the space and add a dash of colour to the room, they obviously do not compare to the real thing!

Fake sunflowers lack the lustre and life of real sunflowers. They will never produce seeds or grow any taller, nor will they attract any bees!

Fake Christianity

As I compared the lifeless, artificial sunflowers with the vibrant, real bunch, it caused me to think of the differences between real and fake Christianity.

Fake Christianity has the outward appearance of Christian living, but it lacks the life-giving Source. Thousands of well-meaning church congregants attend services religiously and go through the rituals, but they never encounter the power and presence of the real, living Christ. It has been famously said:

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

The Real Thing

Just as real sunflowers turn towards the sun in order to grow and produce seeds, a relationship with the Son of God is essential for a true Christian life.

This relationship begins with a personal 'new birth' experience through faith in Christ alone. Jesus said:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

To be 'born again' means to recognize that our nature is deeply flawed by sin and needs to be renewed by accepting Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Only He can change our hearts through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who makes us alive to God.

'Spiritual heliotropism' occurs through daily fellowship with the Son. Christ's life in us will produce maturity, spiritual fruit and eternal life.

Sunrise in Limassol

As sunflowers thrive on the light and energy from the sun, may we turn our hearts towards the rays of God’s love and reflect His character and beauty each day.

But to you who fear My name,

The Sun of Righteousness shall arise

With healing in His wings.

Malachi 4:2



* ‘9 Cool Things You Might Not Know About Sunflowers’ by Lauren Piro (


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