As someone who grew up doing a lot of landscaping, I have done my fair share of removing unwanted weeds and shrubs from yards. It is quite a rewarding experience to remove a mess of unwanted, ugly plants and put in beautiful, colorful replacements. A small team of landscapers can transform a house in a single day. What I learned over the years of landscaping, however, is that if the job is not done right, that same house can be a mess again in a matter of months.
Some of the ugliest weeds and shrubs are especially resilient plants, which means that they are very tough to get rid of. If we were to just go in and cut them all down, they would grow back in no time. The only way to successfully get rid of them is to cut off their root system. We have to cut off their supply of water and nutrients. Otherwise, they will just come back and grow right over top of the beautiful, newly planted replacements.
In order to achieve this, we would often come to a site a week or so in advance of the full landscaping project. We would pull out all of the weeds from the root, and then spray Round Up on the ones that looked like they might still come back. Then, when we returned to finish the job, we would still put down a layer of another product called Preen. Preen is supposed to take care of any super resilient weeds that still try to grow despite being pulled out and sprayed with Round Up. It acts as sort if a weed screen underneath the top layer of fresh mulch.
What I want to propose today is that this is a perfect analogy for our spiritual well being, as well as the spiritual well being of our country and of this world. There have been a lot of terrible tragedies recently that seem to have America riled up and somewhat divided. The most recent one being the church shooting in South Carolina. This tragic event has led many people, including many of our countries great leaders, to be very outspoken about how to fix the problem. I have seen everything from implementing more strict gun laws to severe consequences for the shooter. Please know that I am not here to spark a political debate. Our countries governmental system is designed to decide how we will ultimately move forward, and if any changes are needed. I am just proposing that no law they implement can fully resolve the problem we are seeing. Any law would simply be an attempt to trim off the root and hope it doesn’t grow back, which is a completely false hope.
I once heard a pastor make the statement that, “The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.” The bible is very clear that our hearts are naturally sinful. Without the proper nutrients to combat that selfishness, our hearts will lead us to places of loneliness, bitterness and hate. These things can manifest in a number of different ways, the worst of which our country has recently seen first hand.
The blood of Jesus is the only answer to the problem of the human heart. It is the hand that pulls up the weed, the Round Up that kills it, and the Preen that prevents it from trying to grow back. It is the catalyst that takes our grown over, colorless, and unfruitful landscape of a soul and turns it into a beautiful, thriving and fruitful garden. All of our hard work and effort to pull up the evil weeds affecting our nation and our world are necessary. We should be doing everything we can to get in there and remove the weeds, but if we don’t combine that with the Round Up and the Preen (the blood of Jesus), our efforts are futile. We will just be fighting the same battles over and over again until we give up and lose hope.
In the book I am currently reading, the author references a quote from a very successful pastor in Birmingham, Alabama named Chris Hodges. Pastor Hodges said, “Social justice without Jesus is no justice at all.” I just love this. Notice how Pastor Hodges isn’t telling us that social justice isn’t important. In fact, this quote would imply that it is necessary. However, he is saying that if not coupled with Jesus Christ, it is an injustice. It is a false hope. Without Jesus, we may go in and clean up that landscape and make it look pretty for a day, or even a month, but it will inevitably become overgrown unfruitful again.
Again, I am not writing this to spark controversy about what social programs will fix the current problems in our country. I am simply writing this to call attention to the only permanent solution to any of our problems, personal or national. That is the King of Kings and The Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. What can you do today, tomorrow, and with the rest of your life to help spread Jesus’ real solution of unconditional love to a hurting world? A world that is overgrown with weeds, and in desperate need of His blood that can kill off those weeds once and for all.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6