The wisteria which could have been pulled away by hand is now one with the tree – wisteria kills trees.
In the Parable of the Sower Jesus says:
And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Mt. 13:22)
Just as wisteria chokes the life out of its host tree, so worry and deceit associated with the world’s values choke the Word of life out of lives.
Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:9-10:
But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
I wonder where the prophetic voice of the church has been during our collective pursuit of wealth? A large segment of the North American church seems to have said, “Bigger is better, richer is better, accumulation of material goods is better.” It is the equivalent of removing all speed limits from our highways – travel as fast as you want, faster is better.
The values of this age are deceitful, whether they are values of wealth, accumulation of goods, prestige, power, awards, position, accomplishment, whatever the case may be; Jesus says, “he that seeks to save his life shall lose it.” Do we, as the church, confront this reality head-on, or do we acquiesce in or encourage the pursuit of the things of this world?
It sounds archaic to talk like this. Surely we can have it all and still be Christians. Surely we can have it all and live as God wants us to. There is no reason to drive a car with a governor to modulate speed, there is no reason to be moderate and circumspect in accumulation.
Could it be that in affirming that wealth and “things” are not evil in and of themselves that we have neglected to post speed limits and warning signs on the highway of life regarding the hazards inherent in the values and things of this age? Could it be that while we have celebrated professional and corporate success that we have failed to equally celebrate the success of those who choose to live simply? Could it be that by not celebrating prudence and discretion in lifestyle that we have unwittingly pressured others to value themselves according to the benchmarks of this age rather than the principles of the Kingdom of God?
Have we done a disservice to those who have achieved a high measure of worldly success by not challenging them to look for the Cross in all that they do and value?
In what areas of my life have I allowed the wisteria of the world to choke the Word of God? What about you?