Kudzu is a vine that is ubiquitous in the American South. It was formally introduced to the United States at the 1876 World’s Fair Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, however its potential in the U.S. was minimal at best and it appeared not to have a place in our landscape.
Then came the dust storms of 1935. When soil erosion ravaged the prairies, millions of kudzu seedlings were grown in greenhouse nurseries as the weapon that would stop erosion in its tracks.
Today, rather than in prairies, kudzu is associated with the South. It is very aggressive when planted along roadways and railway embankments, and for that reason, it is conspicuously visible from passing automobiles! Indeed, its creation of goblins and ghouls out of trees and telephone poles can be seen even when traveling 65 miles per hour.
In fact, the vine has been called “the vine that killed the South”, although that seems to be quite an exaggeration! (Read more about this at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/true-story-kudzu-vine-ate-south-180956325/#cGVCq35eEDVdpfqu.99) )
We pass kudzu every time we get in the car as it is on the roadways that we travel daily.
As we were traveling down the highway, I began thinking about Kudzu and its spread. At first, it is innocuous, just a little vine, a weed, no problem. But when it becomes aggressive, it takes control of a small area on the tree and, quickly, engulfs the entire tree. It is truly a formidable foe!
As I was thinking about this, I found a parallel to it for our spiritual lives. Consider the insidious ways that sin overtakes us. Sin is cosmic treason, it is disobedience to God’s command. Dr. R. C. Sproul says:
The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority. It is a revolutionary act, a rebellious act in which we are setting ourselves in opposition to the One to whom we owe everything. It is an insult to His holiness.
R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 115-116
Looking at trees that are consumed by kudzu, we see them weighed down, bent and misshapen. This brings to mind Jonathan Edwards’ description of sin and its effects:
Your wickedness makes you as if it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf; and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock.
The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. II (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1974) p. 9.
Like kudzu, sin is insidious – it creeps in when and where we least expect it. We must be on our guard because sin is constantly tempting us to disregard God and to act on our own, and sin is a formidable foe.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8 ESV
Indeed, we cannot defeat sin on our own.
Martin Luther put it this way:
Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved. Now choose what you want.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Kudzu thrives in the light along the highways and roadways of the South. But, its enemy is the shade of the forest where it cannot survive.
Sin thrives in the darkness of rebellion against God and of self-pride. Jesus said:
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
Matthew 6:22-23 ESV
But, sin has its enemy, specifically the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Light of the world illuminates sin, the Light defeats the darkness.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.””
John 8:12 ESV
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV
Like kudzu, sin may creep in and may even cover the heart, but the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ is sufficient to overcome whatever sin we have committed. Repent and accept His forgiveness, then praise our Lord and glory in His name.
Father, thank You for shining the light of Jesus Christ in my heart and for the presence of the Holy Spirit that protects me as sin tries to tempt. I pray for strength as I walk the path you have directed, I pray that I will look to You each day in Your strength, all for Your glory.