Cut it off!

Pluck it out.

My MIL had this love for trees, in particular Avocado trees. Yes, her avocadoes were out of this Kampala. Huge, as in one could feed our little family of four. For context, the avocadoes I ate in school, one could only sufficiently feed me. And I don’t really fancy avocado that much. Really! So anyway, these avocadoes had that real avocado green color, wow. Peeling one was delightful, the flesh fell exactly where you wanted it. If you have peeled one that got mushy and collapsed into insy winsy bits ina bowl, you know the painnn. The pain of being robbed of a salsa and left with guacamole. Cry me a river.

We would rave on and on about her Avocadoes whenever we were at her home. Her Generosity was unmatched, she shared everything. So if you wanted avocadoes, she sent them by almost sackfuls. It was Avocado paradise. Well, when we finally moved into our home, she decided to give us our very own tree. You think she gave us one, not in the least. She came and planted, by herself two avocado trees. All the while, lamenting how she failed to find one exactly like her own. How she knew these ones would not be exactly like hers but would come close. There we were surrounded by avocadoes, true to her word, they were not exactly like the ones she had. They were huge but not the Avocado green. Oh well, we could always get the ones she picked from her home.

One day, I am passing by one of the trees and I notice these unusual orange flowers on it. I was in a hurry, so it was a really cursory glance. I had spotted some creepers trying to strangle our golden duranta, this was closer to the ground. I pulled them out and moved along. When I got back in, I attempted to find the creeper that turned to be an orange trumpet vine but I couldn’t trace it. Immediately, I knew the tree was in danger. Please I cut all my Agriculture lessons, so it was just a sense.

The cancer

My husband quickly identified this lump and we had to cut off the branches that were affected. The lump where the flame vine had attached itself to the branch and started to grow as an Avocado branch. The orange flowers were pretty but they were not avocadoes. That lump just looked like a cancer to me!! While the men were busy sawing off branches and carrying them away, I was running around shouting ‘O my gosh, this is like a cancer!’ while taking pictures and moving closer to observe. Sigh. Sigh. God loves me just this way, is all I am saying.

Why must a cancer be cut out or nuked out of your body? Because it won’t stop growing. It attaches itself to your body and grows with everything else. Only, instead of adding to your beauty, it begins to drain the life out of you. That tree looked bright, all right but that lump is ugly. Also you are not as productive as you need to be. The flowers on avocado tree signal fruit is coming. These flaming orange trumpets look great on a fence but not on a tree.

So it is with sin. Paul writing to the Romans teaches them that the wages of sin is death. When it comes to dealing with sin in our lives, we cannot be complacent. We have to cut it out. You could choose to ignore it, but eventually it chokes you to death.

43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.

Mark 9:43 ESV

Pluck it out.

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!

Is the phrase, with which Patrick Henry ended his now Famous Speech (a link to a very passionate rendition) at St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia. In August 1775. This is the speech that sealed the resolution of the thirteen colonies to secede from the British Empire. Henry then, began his role in arming a militia that would lead the American revolutionaries to the Declaration of Independence on 4th July 1776.

Liberty in the United States is even immortalised in the statue of Lady Liberty, or Libertas. A gift from the French people to celebrate American freedom. (the idea was conceived in 1865 and Lady Liberty took her place on Ellis Island in 1886.)

What is liberty? Why is it so important that a man would rather die than live without it? As a young girl, I always assumed that everyone was free to do as they please, within the bounds of the law of course. For as long as what I did made my parents happy, I was free to do as I pleased. My perception of liberty was forged in furnace of my neighborhood and formed on the anvil of school. In school, as long as I did what made my parents and teachers happy, I was at liberty and I never had to die for it. I imagine that if I had read Patrick Henry’s speech in school, I would have been plunged into this liberty discourse earlier.

Permit me, dear reader to introduce you to the idea that there is freedom beyond the law and the anti-thesis; that laws can curtail freedom. The Magna Carta and philosophers of the Enlightenment belabored the anti-thesis- creating alternatives for liberty under the law. Some elevated reason and though they recognized natural laws, they rejected the One who made these laws.

Cogito, ergo sum – ‘ I think, therefore I am,’ has been sang in different variations since the 17th century but it has not lead to liberty. Philosophers like Spinoza, Hobbes struggled with the issue of evil, because if one thinks evil, then they are evil. Without laws to curtail the freedoms of evil people, where would society end? Men would need to give up their liberty in exchange for protection from governments, Hobbes argued. John Locke, on the other hand, believed men created governments only to safe guard their rights to liberty, life and property. It seems then that the role of a government is to protect the liberty of the governed, whether as an exchange or as a ‘social contract.’

Almost two centuries later, after Patrick Henry’s speech, in my own country, Uganda, a group of young lads with 27 guns, took to the bush in 1981 because they were seeking liberty. Their government had not protected their Liberty, so they too took up arms. Today, we commemorate their liberation of Uganda on 26th January 1986.

Seated here, 35 years later, it is evident that we as a people have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. The existing laws cannot redeem any man from depravity. We still cry about hunger, injustice, corruption, extra judicial killings, illiteracy, unemployment, violence, rape, fake UMEME, wars etcetera etcetera. Having spent most of my time locked down in 2020, because of a COVID-19 virus pandemic, I am very cognizant of the inability of the government to protect me in exchange for my liberty. Because the virus, bacteria and other disease causing germs do not exchange their liberty to any government, they are at liberty to do as they please. Where does one go when those assigned to protect are unable to do so?

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord .”

Luke 4:18-19 NKJV

Luke records Jesus Christ as reading this text written by Prophet Isaiah in a synagogue in Nazareth where he had grown up. The Jews threw him out, for one, they were still under the very oppressive rule of the Romans. He could not state such things and leave them as they are. Secondly, they knew Him. He was their homeboy, he could not be the Messiah.

Well, two millennia later, we know better. But we still need to believe better. Our liberty was proclaimed and Jesus has all the authority in Heaven and on Earth. (Matthew 28:19NKJV) The government is on His shoulder. (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV) He is the One we should run to for Liberty.

Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:7 NKJV