If the trees and shrubs scattered around the Gallagher compound could respond like regular folks, they’d run away and hide when they see my wife coming. She’s a compulsive pruner. She will prune anything that looks like it might be alive, which probably accounts for the fact that she also cuts my hair. Because of that, the stuff around here looks pretty good. The green stuff is flourishing, and my hair—what I have left, anyway—is neat and socially acceptable. Pruning can be a good thing. Jesus not only approves of it, He gets into it Himself, but not with bushes and trees. In a well-known little dissertation, He described His followers as being branches growing out of a grapevine. He said that when we’re showing signs of life and producing a little fruit, He gets out His pruning shears and goes to work—effective, but not fun for the branches. The end result is that the non-productive, energy sapping parts are removed, so that the part that is cranking out a few grapes gets a shot of fresh nourishment and begins to grow and expand. Simple, isn’t it?
There’s an important principle worth highlighting in that whole horticultural idea, because sometimes we find ourselves using the wrong tools. Sometimes we grab the pruning shears when the situation calls for a different device altogether. Jesus’ forerunner illustrated that for us, and we need to pay attention.
John the Baptist is an attention getter of the first magnitude, and a fascinating character, from his lifestyle, to his wardrobe, to his diet, to the things he said. He came walking out of isolation in the Judean wilderness and into the most significant series of events human history, and with no noteworthy accomplishments, and no advance PR work, he began to draw crowds like a Jewish Donald Trump.
To a nation oppressed on multiple levels, and facing problems for which they saw no workable solution, John brought a message from God that included some landscaping work as well, but it was a different process, and had nothing to do with pruning. In a message comprised of only two categories, bad news and good news, John began with the bad news, because the bad news always highlights the value of the good news. His announcement was simple, direct, and clear. “The axe is laid to the root of the trees,” he said. If you happen to be a tree, that’s a lot more foreboding than a pruning session.
When you go after the roots, nothing in the tree survives. In another reference to trees, Jesus addresses the whole purpose of the tree in the first place, and evaluates it in reference to what the tree is producing. He said,
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit,” (Matthew 12:33 NKJV).
When the whole tree is bad, God doesn’t engage in a process that would only stimulate its growth and make a bad situation worse. In that case, He doesn’t do pruning, He goes after the root.
We would do well to consider that approach when contemplating our response to the current revelations regarding Planned Parenthood’s practice of making merchandise of the body parts of murdered babies. That organization is unquestionably a “bad tree”, and the bloody produce that flows out of the death chambers it calls ‘clinics’ provides an abundance of evidence to support that designation. In spite of that, we’re vulnerable to become so consumed with grabbing our pruning shears and going after those limbs and branches that are the most heinous examples of what the tree really is, that we ignore the roots supporting it. Although getting rid of them is indeed a good thing, we may discover that all we’ve done is offer an opportunity for a host of new shoots to sprout and grow. In which case, the tree continues to live, and the problem is not only unsolved, but we may have actually stimulated growth of new ones. It’s the root we need to target, not just the branches.
It would be instructive to consider how the enemy used that very tactic when he attacked the Church of Jesus Christ in America. He did more than harass us by attacking our branches. That’s a normal procedure with him. He knew he could never weaken us severely that way, so he went after our root system. The axe he chose was Darwinian evolution. That godless system, which purported to offer a different explanation of our origin, and a different definition of who and what we are, was accepted as the ‘scientific’ alternative, and soon it began to be taught as an established fact at every level of academia. That dealt a devastating blow to the authority of Scripture, and thus to the Body of Christ, from which America has not recovered. That strategic attack on our root system affected our connection to the sustaining nourishment of the authoritative Word of God, and the destructive impact has been huge.
If we look for the real sources feeding and supporting the evil work of Planned Parenthood and others like them, we cannot mistake the taproot of a pervasive national obsession with sex in any and every form. That obsession, fed by virtually every medium of human communication, with the possible exception of carrier pigeons, has grown from a desire, to an expectation, to a demand. Sexual pleasure is seen as a ‘right’, and it is to be available without restriction, without express or implied personal responsibility, and free from commitment and/or accountability. That is the evil root that feeds Planned Parenthood.
Here’s the paradox. If we fail to reconnect our own root system, and reestablish Biblical authority in our own lives, we’ll never have the tools needed to go after theirs. If we’re content with a superficial pruning job on Planned Parenthood, and leave their evil root system intact, we will fail to address the real problem, and only ensure our own continued decline. It’s a good thing to lop off some of those unspeakably horrible limbs and branches, but it’s high time some of us grabbed an axe.
© 2015 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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