One of the greatest fears of our generation is a cancer diagnosis. Because cancer is an aggressive and deadly disease, beating it requires equally aggressive treatments. Sometimes the patient has to lose a piece of themselves, like an organ or a limb. That followed by chemotherapy and its long list of side effects.
There is one form of cancer that is by far the most threatening and deadly of all. It’s a heart cancer that infects nearly everyone, yet few people know about it.
Jesus shows us this diagnosis in Matthew 13:
“And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.”
“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”
In his book The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis says, “Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him.”
Let me give you an example of what I mean. After many months of searching and praying, my husband has recently found a job. Suddenly, it feels like a new path is opened to us; one that offers a steady paycheck, a nice house, a few kids… the American dream.
Our calling to write books is resting comfortably on the back burner.
I’ve grown very quickly attached to this new path. It’s got a hold of me.
I’m not saying this lifestyle is sinful. It could be exactly what God has for us. But if I’m holding onto this dream more tightly than I’m holding onto God, and if I’m seeking it first and His Kingdom second, it won’t take long for me to start experiencing symptoms.
These symptoms are things like doubt, fear, unhappiness, envy, regret, discontentedness, and fruitlessness.
That last one is the killer. Because my soul is secured by the blood of Jesus Christ, I have no fear of eternal separation from Him. The danger lies in becoming so ill that I can’t effectively serve Him and therefore losing my calling to someone else.
For those who don’t know the Lord, this cancer is deadly. This infestation is choking the life out of them.
And many of us don’t even know we’re sick.
Society is offering us excuses like ‘you can’t help it,’ ‘you were born that way,’ ‘that’s just the way you are,’ ‘it’s not your choice.’
We’d rather believe these lies than fight the disease because the more we enjoy and cling to our sins, the more we feel defined by them.
Just like with cancer, purging the world from our hearts can be extremely painful. Sometimes, God will require us to surrender things that literally feel like a part of us.
“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
Of course these verses aren’t literal, but we should take note of the extremity of the metaphor. Victory over the world’s hold on us will only come at a cost, and that price may be steep.
The world is trying to have its way with us and we want to let it.
I don’t want to submit to treatment. I’d rather put up with the symptoms of the disease than the side-effects of the medicine.
But I know that Jesus’ healing work in me, no matter how painful, will lead to life, and life more abundantly.
So come what may, I’m going to battle.
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”