Yesterday, I made reference to the Parable of the Sower found in the New Testament (see post). One of the situations mentioned in that story got me to thinking….
Behold, the sower went out to sow…[and some] seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them…. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful (Matt 13:3,7,22).
The message of these verses seems clear: we are not to be entangled by the cares of the world. Such cares can choke out the blessing of the Word of God and lead to unfruitful, disastrous living.
What are the cares of the world? There are many, and they appear in every area of life. Economic. Material. Occupational. Familial. Relational. Even the ever-present and oppressive email Inbox.
These things can choke our faith, and so we need to regard them rightly. Not that we pretend these factors don’t exist, but we strive to ensure that they don’t overwhelm the promises of God and our trust in Him. The trials in each of these areas of life should push us to cultivate the seed of His Word in its influence on our lives–not cause us to ignore it and slip into the downward cycle of despair.
The passage above teaches us to be free from worldly entanglements, but what about godly entanglements?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Phil 4:8).
Freedom from all entanglements doesn’t seem to be God’s way; we should be thoroughly entangled in the things of Him–the virtuous, righteous, glorious things of life.
So, I ask myself: what am I entangled by? Nothing? Am I trying to be neutral? In order to avoid being ensnared by the wrong things, have I tried to prevent myself from being entangled in anything at all?
Buddhism teaches that freedom from all attachments is what leads to escape from suffering. But the message of the Bible is different. We should be entangled in the things of God.
But we have to come with the right expectations. Attachment to God’s ways doesn’t guarantee a life free from suffering. Just after the verse above, the author Paul mentions that he has often found himself in circumstances of poverty, hunger, and affliction (Phil 4:12-14).
We avoid entanglements in worldly things because they can lead to choking off the power of God’s Word in our lives. But we pursue entanglement in godly things simply because it’s the right thing to do. The middle way of avoiding attachment to anything is not the best path to take. Rather, we are to get ourselves caught up in the pursuit of righteousness…even when that pursuit takes us through seasons of suffering.
What am I entangled by? I’m not trying to be a Buddhist, so I’d better not be avoiding all entanglements. Rather, I’m trying to be a Christ-follower, so I need to pursue attachment to the things of Christ.
Flee from the bad; get entangled in the good.