Invasive Species

carpobrotus_chilensisI am currently reading through the Soul-Detox by Craig Groeschel, which is fundamentally a fast.  You want to cleanse your soul of unhealthy addictions or habits and get clean.  At the beginning of the book you have to take an honest assessment of what areas in your life are becoming habitually toxic and unhealthy.  What things are you doing that are compromising your obedience and service?  Are there relationships that you have that are pulling you away from the relationship that should be the most important?

After I finished the first chapter, I sat down with a notepad and started really looking through my life.  I walked through my house.  Then I reviewed my bank accounts.  Just as Craig had predicted I started seeing things that could be done differently.  I saw areas of my life that needed an overhaul.  I saw things that were truly distracting me from my relationship with God.  To be honest, the list in my life is pretty long:  television, food, Facebook, video games, clothes, shopping, books, computers, or even reading the news.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me.  The things in my list are not sins.  Nowhere in the Bible does God speak out against social media or entertainment.  Jesus even went to parties.  That’s not what the problem is.  The problem is when your little “not sin” starts taking over the rest of your life.  I realized that I have a lot of “not sins” that are interfering with my pursuit of God.  There is a mountain of “not sins” standing in the path Jesus has for me.

Now we are all familiar with the fact that the Devil likes to hurt and lie to you to challenge your obedience.  What is less likely to raise your hackles is that he also tempts you with things that are “not sins”.  I mean, an apple is healthy right?  One a day keeps the doctor away.  Nancy Reagan didn’t include apples in her “Just Say No” campaign, so what’s the harm?  That’s the trick.  It’s when we take something that isn’t a sin and allow it to creep in until it becomes more important than God that a “not sin” becomes a sin.

It reminds me of something I read once.  In an effort to make their homes attractive, some people had purchased some flowers.  Check the Bible, buying flowers is not a sin.  Check the law books, it’s not illegal either.  They planted these flowers in their yard, and then they started growing like crazy.  Pretty soon they started spreading to areas outside the yard, and flourishing in the community. These pretty little flowers were expanding outside the original intentions to the point that rangers were fighting against them in conservation areas to preserve the original plants.  They had become an invasive species. In an effort to make their homes more beautiful, they had brought in a plant that wasn’t indigenous to the region and now the entire ecosystem was in trouble.

scotchBroom What starts out innocent can have long lasting effects.  What started out small as an effort to do something nice ended up requiring a major group effort to stem the damage.  The same is true with our little “not sins”.  They start out small and insignificant, and end up compromising our spiritual ecosystem.  The next thing you know you are in trouble and the Holy Spirit has to come to the rescue.  The two of you are tramping through your soul pulling up these “no sins” by the root to make sure you get it all.  These little entertainments have become my invasive species, and it’s time for a change.

Now, in my brief time as a Christian, I have seen God do some amazing things in my life.  I have seen changes in me that I never would have imagined.  When I serve in the church I get an inexplicable feeling of exhilaration.  I have a tangible relationship with God.  I have a life that seems like it has come out of a fairy tale.  I am not rich or successful, but despite the odds, I am miraculously happy.  I am blessed in friendship, family, and community, and I know that I am truly loved.

Now, if that is what God can do with the small portion of my life that I have surrendered to Him, I can’t even begin to imagine what could happen if I chose to start pulling out all the pretty little flowers I put in His garden and gave Him the rest.