Our bodies are wonderfully and fearfully made. They are self-healing, growing, adapting machines; the likes of which no human invention will ever come close to! God made our bodies wonderful, but still temporary and with some limitations.
10 years ago, I had the displeasure of cracking a tooth via another tooth. I had apparently been grinding my teeth due to stress and damaged a molar. I received a root canal, and two days later was on a 14 hour flight for a previously planned trip. No pain killers. Not pleasant.
Recently my crown fell off. Before getting it glued back on permanently, I decided to see a specialist about my tooth, as it had been giving me pain off and on for several years. The specialist noted that the root canal was in bad shape – the tooth, canals, the bone, and pockets around the root showed signs of infection. He recommended a re-treatment of the root canal, though there was no guarantee it would remove all infection permanently, but upon much counsel and a variety of factors, I decided that I will have the stinker removed.
This is not a rant about what the bible says about dental care, and while I have learned some dangers of root canals, I mean not to broach that topic. (Asking two people their advise would render 3 answers anyway…) Instead through this ordeal, I tried to see if there were any spiritual analogies.
My tooth, and most of the roots that once held it in place are dead. Synthetic goo is holding what remains of my natural tooth in place while a crown is glued on top. What was once a living member of my body is no longer functioning as it was meant to.
So the question I ask today to myself, and to you, is this:
What dead things in my life stand in the way of abundant life?
Do we hold on for dear life to the things that are dead in our life? Squeeze to death things which have no life?
Jesus said of himself, “I am the way, the truth, the Life” and yet if we’re honest with ourselves we can see things in our lives that do not produce positive fruit, or any fruit at all.
These “things” might be activities, possessions, words, media, focus, and actions that are not glaringly “wrong,” (not murder, stealing) yet are not the types of things that lead us to life.
Watching TV is not inherently wrong. Watching seven hours of TV a day while we don’t spend one moment in God’s word? That is a problem.
Perhaps an exit checklist I should be using when gauging what should stay or go in my life is:
- Does it bear negative or no fruit?
- Does it help us fit synergistically into the body of Christ?
- Does it need to be amputated?
Does it bear any fruit?
We read in Matt 7:19 that “every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
We may think that simply not bearing bad fruit is good enough, yet in John 15 we see a different story. In John 15 verse 2, we see that simply bearing no fruit is not good enough.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
God does not take kindly to us being stagnant. Going back to the analogy of the body – why would we put in effort to support and maintain a member of our body that won’t ever do anything? It seems a lot of effort for nothing. Likewise, why would God want children in His Kingdom who do not bear any fruit at all? Why would we maintain things in our lives, things that we cherished before we became a new creation in Christ, that have no life in them?
Even neutrality is an enemy of progress. Revelation warns of the danger of being lukewarm, noting that “hot or cold” is preferable. Perhaps that’s why Paul was chosen for his important role in the church – it is much easier to change directions of a moving train than to get it started. Paul had fruits, though they were misguided and against the church, but Christ was able to steer him in a different direction without a loss of momentum. We need to bear fruit, and that fruit must be good. While we’re not saved by our own works, its clear that we will be held accountable for the fruit we bear.
Does it help us to fit neatly into the body?
Eph 4:16 is a familiar passage showing how the body of Christ should work together like cogs in a machine – with every part serving a purpose for the greater synergistic whole.
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
A dead member of the body, or dead works in our life, can be compared to a tooth with rotting roots. It may look shiny on the outside, but bring nothing to the table.
The body is made up of many members, and if one is not up to snuff, the other members can share the load, but this is not meant to be a permanent situation! After a while, the dead cog in the machine will start to wear down the surrounding parts.
Does it need to be amputated?
Matt 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
This seems like one of the greatest “overstatements” in the bible. Cutting off a part of the body on the chance it could cause us to sin? Yet, we know that God doesn’t mess around with sin.
In my tooth situation, it may seem a stretch to apply this to a tooth, yet my infected root canal is causing harm to my body, and until the source of the infection is completely removed, there is always a chance it will come back.
When any part of our body dies, we cut it off, so the “deadness” doesn’t spread. Infection, disease, and other issues arise from a dead member. As is the case with many physical issues, there is a spiritual parallel.
What spiritual infections may result from keeping things in our lives that have no life in them?
Keeping these things around can be a distraction, or they could cause infection that spreads to the healthy parts of our life! Hence the need for amputation for the greater good!
Men and brethren, what shall we do?
It is very easy to think we’re doing alright simply avoiding breaking the commandments, yet we’re called to an even higher standard of bearing positive fruit, and removing the things that do not. It is easy to think we’re alright because we avoid murder and grand theft, but there is more expected of us than just passing with a “C” grade.
Take a look at individual things in your life, and ask:
- Does it bear any fruit?
- Does it help me fit into the body?
- Does it need to be amputated?
Let us remove anything “dead” standing in the way of life.