Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Vines (11/21/05)
TITLE: The Beautiful Killing Vine
By Mary Lang
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Sin in our lives is like the Japanese Kudzu vine flourishing in the Southeastern United States. The Kudzu vine is a lush, green, sweet-smelling vine that can quickly grow out of control if left unattended.
People from the South are all too aware of the thriving leafy Kudzu vine that was introduced to the United States during the nation’s 100th birthday celebration. American gardeners were impressed by the plant and used it for ornamental gardens. Since the vine grows so well in the climate of the south, it was planted profusely by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression of the 1930s to help stop soil erosion.
While people in Japan harvest the Kudzu vine and have uses for all parts of the vine, the US government stopped advocating uses for the vine in the 1953. Without its natural insect enemies or the need to harvest it, the Kudzu vine thrives and spreads wildly. It has been called the “mile-a-minute plant or the foot-a-night vine.” Southerners say they have to close their window at night to keep out the fast growing vines. It is a sad fact, but many of us also close our windows at night to keep out the fast growing vine of crime – the tendrils of theft, sexual assault, invasion of privacy.
In the South the Kudzu vine rapidly renders anything it covers into an indistinguishable shape even killing tall trees and destroying entire forests by canceling life-giving light. In the same way, sin changes us from wholesome, caring individuals to altogether indistinguishable persons. If we stay covered in sin, we are deprived of the life-giving divine light of Christ and die, just as trees and plants die without light.
Sin is deceiving, and comes into our lives as a thin tendril testing its boundary. Like the Kudzu vine, sin steadily creeps along until it has woven its snaking branches into the fabric of our lives covering us like a dark blanket. Then sin overpowers by wrapping itself intricately and tightly into our lives, suffocating, and finally destroying like the Kudzu vine that grows over an entire barn, house, or forest.
Neither sin nor the Kudzu vine relinquishes their hold easily.
We don’t recognize the power of the small, seemingly innocuous bad habits we allow into our lives until they turn on us as fully developed vines of sin and choke our spiritual and physical life. By then we need help to battle back the vines of sin: to clip the tendrils, cut back the branches or chop off the vine at the root.
A master gardener has the knowledge to control and remove the invasive vine, and only with ever vigilant care can the gardener control the aggressive Kudzu vine. The gardener doesn’t hate the vine: he hates its copious and damaging growth. The gardener’s ministry is to share his knowledge and suggest practical ways to use the vine. He offers his services not only to stem the spread of the unwanted vine, but also to turn the vine into something beneficial.
Christ is our tenacious Master Gardener. He doesn’t hate the world: our vine of many branches. He hates our sin: the uncontrolled misuse of the gifts in the world. Our Master Gardener shares his knowledge of how to remove sin from our lives through His Word. He offers his service through the hands and talents of people. He calls each of us to his ministry: to be tools in his garden on earth.
By studying and living His Word, we can recognize and remove the deceivingly delicate tendrils of sin from the garden of our lives before they grow strong and take over. We can learn to be tenacious and relentless in battling the obstinate vines of sin. Then, as tools of the Master Gardener, we can prevent the overgrowth of the vine of sin and keep his lavish earthly garden beautiful.
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