Two new cases of human plague have been confirmed in New Mexico’s Santa Fe County. Plague can be transmitted by fleas from wild rodents that have died. The fleas can be carried by pets back into the home, where they put people at risk. Plague can be treated with antibiotics, though it can be life-threatening if treatment is not given in time.
Now consider what I call “the parable of two trees.”
I was hiking in the woods over the weekend and came upon a tree felled by a beaver. The trunk was sawed in half and the tree’s branches lay on the ground.
Returning to Dallas, I was walking in our neighborhood when I came upon a tree whose leaves are turning brown. I’m no arborist, but even I know that leaves in Texas are not supposed to lose their color in June. A bit of research revealed that “leaf scorch” is a likely explanation. This condition is caused by nutrient deficiency, damaged roots, poor drainage, or insect damage.
We have no beavers in our neighborhood, so we might assume our trees are safe. But what attacks a tree from the inside can be as deadly as what attacks it from the outside.
We live in a conflicted world: another global cyberattack, a helicopter attack on Venezuela’s Supreme Court, and chemical weapons activity in Syria all lead the news this morning. But like plague and leaf scorch, our greatest threats are already inside our home.
Abraham Lincoln was adamant: “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” He claimed in 1838 that “all the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.”
If America was safe from external attack 179 years ago, how much more secure is the world’s only military superpower today? But immorality is a greater threat than any foreign enemy.
The Lord warned Babylon, then the greatest superpower in the world: “You felt secure in your wickedness, you said, ‘No one sees me’; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’ But evil shall come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away; disaster shall fall upon you, for which you will not be able to atone; and ruin shall come upon you suddenly, of which you know nothing” (Isaiah 47:10–11). Today the Babylonian Empire is no more.
How does God feel about sins such as adultery, premarital sex, homosexual activity, pornography, and sex trafficking in America? Here’s the answer: “God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4).
What does our Father want his children to do? “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). How healthy is your heart today?
NOTE: For more on today’s theme, see Ryan Denison’s Why 47% of younger evangelicals support gay marriage.