Spending the entire day in the “briar patch” is not my idea of a joyous, happy day. Nevertheless I do find myself there on a regular basis. Briars are a plant that starts very small and grow at amazing speed into monster vines that can literally overtake a tree. That process has been going on in the trees of my little farm for a long, long time. My goal to eradicate them is endless and challenging. The briars grow so fast and strong that they can change the shape of small trees, ascend to the top of a 70-80 (and more) foot trees, and extend over into other trees to continue their journey, seemingly infinitely. Removing them is an endless, bloody, back breaking job. They intertwine with other briars and various kinds of vines, closing the view of a beautiful hillside, and the thorns can (and do) puncture the sturdiest of gloves.
It causes me to think about the sin in the life of a Church. It has been there since the beginning (see for example the epistle 3rd John), and continues today. One sin (ugly words about a member, for example) can spread to the entire congregation if left to grow. It will damage every thing it touches, and reproduces continuously. It can spread through a village, town, or city, and leave a damaging reputation in the mind of people who so desperately need to know Redemption through the blood of Calvary’s cross, and the embrace of a Christ centered family of Believers.
Briars have to be ripped from the trees and burned. Sin can be cleansed from a Believer by confession of guilt (1 John 1:9). Every one must examine where they are in the briar patch.