Cut Down the Tree…

Hey guys, so I don’t really have a structure to what the plan is for these posts. That is, I don’t really have a set schedule of what topics I’m going to write about necessarily. I don’t so much want to preach as I just want to write and share my thoughts organically as they come. At some point in the future I’m sure I will write some posts in succession and in series that build on each other, but as of now I don’t really have any plans for that yet. So, now that the housekeeping is out of the way, lets get to it.

This past Sunday morning (yesterday), I was sitting in church and one of our Associate Pastors, Makonyola Khoza, was absolutely killing it with his message out of Ephesians 1. I mean, one of the better messages I’ve heard in a while #becasueJESUS; you wouldn’t understand that hashtag unless you were at Christ Community Church this Sunday (if you weren’t there this Sunday, go check out that link and you can pull up the podcast of the message; trust me, it’s well worth your time.) But back to the point, in the message, he made a reference at one point to how Christians view the process of removing sin as God just pulling weeds. How God is just going through the garden of our lives and pulling out the weeds. And it got my wheels to turning about how we should view sin. It wasn’t the direction his message took, but my mind went there for a brief minute so I just want to share my thoughts with you guys about it.

How many of us have actually pulled weeds in a garden? I for sure have. Growing up I used to go spend a week or two out of the summer with my grandmother and she’s a huge green thumb. Like the kind of person that has a garden that wins awards. The kind that all of the neighbors are jealous of her landscaping because it’s that good. So Gram used to take me out to the garden and say, “if you pull all of these weeds, we can go and get a giant ice-cream cone for lunch, just don’t tell mom and dad.” So I’d be out there all morning slaving trying to get all the weeds pulled, and I always got the job done, but it was inevitable that somewhere along the way the thought would pop into my head that I wasn’t sure if an ice cream cone was worth all of this. I mean, it was tedious work and not the easiest thing to catch every last weed; and the worst part is that you knew that when you came back in a couple weeks to visit with mom and dad that the weeds would all be sprung back up and need to be pulled again.

I say all of that to say this: too many Christians view the sanctification process and the forgiveness of sin in their lives to be like this. Too many Christians think that after they become Christians they just live their lives and God pulls the weeds that are sin and He just labors away tediously. But eventually, the weeds are just going to spring up again in due time and at some point along the way God has to get frustrated and say, “I don’t know if the ice cream cone is worth all of this work. Why am I doing this if the weeds are just going to spring up again in a few weeks.” And what this type of thinking does to in our spirit and mind is tells us that we were meant to live in this constant cycle of weeds of sin springing up and God pulls them out. Then given some time, the weeds spring back up, God pulls them out and so on.

The reality is that we weren’t created to live like this and to think that we were is a severe perversion of the Gospel. We weren’t created to live in a cycle of God laboring over us as he pulls the same weeds over and over again.

And it’s all too often that we hear church leaders and counsellors saying that God pulls the weeds because He’s gracious and He loves us and He’ll come through for us time and time again no matter how many times we fall because of His love for us and yada yada. But in reality, this is a messed up idea of grace and God hates doing the same work twice, not because He’s frustrated with us but because it kills Him that we don’t understand the vastness of His love enough to think that he wouldn’t take care of the problem once and for all. Grace isn’t about catching us every time we trip over the same obstacle, Grace is about removing the obstacle all together. And it pains God that we don’t believe He’s good enough and loves us enough to just remove the obstacle. So what we end up doing is tripping over something. Then God moves the obstacle completely out of the way and then we pull it back and trip on it again. We need to let God have the final say. When He removes the obstacle don’t think He just pulled a weed that will spring up again. Don’t go pull the obstacle back to trip on it again. Believe that God removed it for good, believe that He is good enough to do that for you

This isn’t to say that our desire for sin disappears all together, I’m not denying that sanctification is a process. But God often deals with sin individually, otherwise, we would’t be able to keep up. It’s not for His sake that it’s a process, it’s for ours. For example, a broken identity issue might need to be taken care of before an alcoholism issue can be addressed. If somebody takes care of alcohol addiction before repairing the broken identity that caused the substance abuse, chances are, at some point, that person is going to fall back to a substance to try and feel better about themselves. So God often deals with areas of sin in successive steps; for our sake. But once the Lord has dealt with an area of our lives, that area is restored, and He’s free to move on to the next area. He doesn’t have to keep coming back to do monthly maintenance because He’s given us the power to overcome.

Quick disclaimer, I’m not negating the reality of radical, life changing, supernatural encounters with God. I’ve known and seen people radically healed in every area of their life, all at once, in an instant with a single terrifying but holy encounter with the glory of God. They are radically healed and changed in every area of their life. That definitely does happen, it happened to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), it still happens today; and frankly, this type of radical encounter is the type of thing we should all be striving for. That God would reveal himself to us in such a marvelous way that our spirit and soul has not choice but to come into alignment and agreement with who He is all at once. But we also must not negate the value of the process of sanctification that often takes place, which I’m talking about here.

John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. We weren’t created to simply have problems that we cope with over the course of our lives. The verse doesn’t say that Jesus came so that we can have life in mediocre portion where God dealing with our sin comes in the form of maintenance like pulling weeds. Where He pulls the weeds then they spring up again and He pulls the weeds again and so on. No! We were created to have life abundantly, free from the life-choking power that these weeds have on us.

I have a friend who struggled with an eating disorder for a while and by a miracle of God she overcame but it wasn’t without a lot of money and time invested in therapy and medicine and diets and the whole bit. And in one of her therapy sessions the therapist said, “You need to learn to cope with this disfunction. The key to overcoming it is to accept that it’s part of you and to learn how to mold your life around this in a way that it doesn’t affect you anymore.” And she tried that for a time and it didn’t work. The real healing came when she was on her knees in her living room crying out saying, “God I refuse to accept that. You never said that I needed to cope with my disfunction. You never said that I was supposed to live life dealing with these struggles. You sent Jesus so that I can experience victory and have life abundantly and I refuse to just cope. I’m tired of coping, it’s exhausting. I want life abundant.” And that was the beginning of her healing process, when she acknowledged that she wasn’t meant to deal with her issues in a way that she just made life work. She was made to have life abundant, free from the grips of her disfunction.

So let me paint a brief picture of what “abundant life” looks like in reference to the sanctification and removal of sin from our lives. Sticking with the metaphor of removing vegetation: abundant life is like cutting down a tree. That’s it, no weeds that grow back in a few weeks, no spores that are already springing from the roots. When you cut down a tree, that’s it; it doesn’t grow back. New sprouts don’t form out of that stump that remains, the tree is gone and there’s no chance of it coming back. This is what Jesus did at the cross, this is what it looks like to have life abundant. That God cut down the tree that was your sin and it’s gone. All that remains is a stump. And the most beautiful thing is that we don’t have to do anything to receive this. All we have to do is acknowledge the tree exists and ask God to cut it down. And then from there, it’s a battle of the mind to constantly view that area of our lives as a tree that’s been cut down and dealt with; not as a weed that will grow back.

The truth is that sin is a tree that’s been cut down, the lie is that it’s a weed and that your only free for a time until you fall to temptation again and the weed grows back. Strive to believe the truth, for this is the struggle of the Christian to constantly replace the fallacies in their lives with Kingdom truths. Don’t accept the lie and let the stump that remains not be a callous or sore on your heart that there was once a tree there. Let the stump be your testimony. Let that stump be a constant reminder to you and those around you of Jesus’ redemptive work at the cross.

We have to believe that we weren’t made to simply cope with your struggles. We weren’t made to cope with that eating disorder. We weren’t made to cope with that drug, alcohol, porn, food, whatever addictions. We weren’t made to simply cope with depression. We weren’t put on this planet to simply manage the sin in our lives to the point where we can control ourselves and say no to the sinful cravings of our hearts. We were made to have life abundant and overcome our struggles. We were made for transformation that changes the desires of our hearts from sinful things to the righteous things of the Kingdom of Heaven, this is the journey of sanctification. We were created as a conquerors. Just believe that God’s love is big enough to cut down the tree and not just pull weeds, because we’re cheating ourselves out of so much love when we believe the lie and put a cap on the love of the Father. We need to be sure not to throttle ourselves like that. Jesus came so that we can have life abundantly, so we need to embrace abundant life. Take hold of the gift that Jesus died for us to have.

That’s all I’ve got for this post guys, I would love to hear your thought so hit me up with some comments and lets get a discussion going and you can always email me too, check out the Connect with me page for email info! Also, let me know how you guys feel about the length. This post turned out a bit longer than I anticipated but it’s no longer than a book chapter or something like that. So let me know if it’s too long, just right, not long enough. I want to produce content that you guys actually have time to consume so your input would be much appreciated. Also, share on social media and help me spread the blessing. Thanks guys, much love

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