Invasive Species (devotional)

Scotch Broom

Phyllis Nissila


Scotch broom, Cytisus scoparius, is an invasive species of shrub [1] that has infested vast tracts of land in the Pacific Northwest. It’s often called “wicked weed” because once rooted, Scotch broom quickly takes over and threatens local eco-systems. It also contributes to sneezing, watery eyes, and other allergy symptoms.

Every year Scotch broom seems to double in quantity, its yellow-bud-encrusted presence encroaching, mange-like, over more and more roadsides, hillsides, pastures, glens, dales, yards, cracks in the asphalt… I’ve often thought that some talented horror story writer could create a skin-prickling, adrenalin-pumping tale that both starts and ends with two words: Scotch broom (sound of screaming).

What brought the noxious shrub to mind was thinking about how a false gospel invades a church. It starts when the seed of an errant idea floats in on the coat-tale of some itinerant apostasy looking to take root in an unsuspecting congregation, a church body that has perhaps taken for granted the established flora and fauna of the Word, or is perhaps just settling into some mid-season nap…

In wafts the bad seed (or perhaps it has simply lain dormant in some unchecked corner): a “new revelation” here, an “experience” there. Maybe a little pomp and circumstance. Pretty soon the Word of God is starved for good soil as the weed roots itself in first one, then another, then another and another and another who neglect to check the source and composition of the new species and quickly succumb to the charm and novelty of it. Until one day, when the odor of infestation is thick in the air and the true nature of its invasive presence reveals itself—but eyes can no longer see nor ears hear. And another congregation bites the dust—or battles the encroaching destruction.

Gardeners advise pulling landscape invaders like Scotch broom early before they have a chance to threaten the eco-system. In addition, adding nutrients to the soil strengthens native species.

The Word of God has advice, too, for the maintenance of a healthy spiritual landscape: test every spirit for they are not all of God (1 John 4:1) and He will root up every plant He has not planted (Matthew 15:13). And to maintain good ground where the seed of truth can grow and bear fruit? Hear and understand the Word of God (Matthew 13:23).


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