ALLERGENS AND TOXINS
I will never forget the day that I discovered I am allergic to avocados. It was not a pleasant experience. I was minding my own business about enjoy a delicious carne asada burrito that someone had given to me FOR FREE! About half way through the glorious gift, my throat started to burn. My lips started to itch. My tongue started to swell, and my breathing started to sound a little weezy (not Yeezy). Thankfully, I ended up being okay and have since become super cautious (but very much still accepting) of free burritos.
The funny thing is that even though I now know how to stay away from deadly allergens, I am not at all careful about toxins (sorry, mom). Case in point, as I am writing this I am throwing down hard on a bowl of Orange Chicken and white rice. These delicious deep fried poisonous, sweet and tangy nitrates with sodium sauce will be the slow end of me. Because toxins do not harm you immediately but most of the time they cause your body harm over many years. Most likely, my life will not be inhibited by the sudden strike of an avocado, but it might be significantly affected by the collective impact of the toxins I put inside me on a regular basis. This is why we need to regularly take periods of detoxing where we not only abstain from intaking these toxins, but we also proactively cleanse our organs of their poison and give our body a fresh start to function as it should.
OUR TOXIC, CLUTTERED SOULS
The same thing can be said about our souls. Sometimes we can pick up so much clutter and junk in our souls that there is no room for the things God has for us. Most of the time this happens without us even noticing. It’s a small comment here or a passerby interaction there. It’s a slow intake of seemingly harmless, yet slowly lethal, messages and thoughts that can run our souls into the ground.
We can scroll through our instagram feed and pick up the lies that we need to do more, have more, be more, in order to keep up with everyone else.
At work we can pick up the sense that to get ahead we need to be malicious with the way we deal with others. Or we can listen to the noise of culture that tells us that in order to attract a lover we need to convey a certain image, treat people in a way that asserts our importance or give off an obnoxious alpha male stereotype.
We can listen to the messages of media and start to view ourselves the way that marketers would want us to. We end up buying into lies about ourselves, lies about how the world works, and we end up operating out of that toxic place.
All of these things and more can become toxic to our souls. As we pick them up and stuff them into our hearts and minds over time, we will end up leaking out this poison onto others. The Scriptures address this reality in Psalm 51 where we see David notice how the toxicity levels in his own soul have reached a peak and has harmed other people. His response is to cry out to God to make him clean again:
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:10-12, NRSV)
Usually when we read this passage we focus on the repentance of the sins that we have committed. Rightly so! This is David’s prayer of confession and repentance after he had slept with his friend’s wife and then set up that same friend’s death to cover his tracks. But I think there is another invitation in this prayer. Because we have to remember that David did not become a lying, adulterer, murderous, tyrant overnight! No, slowly, overtime, he bought into lies about himself and his soul became cluttered, dirty, and toxic and these actions were a result.
Now we may be very very very far from the egregious acts of adultery and murder, but the toxins of jealousy, greed, pride, and lust that led David to these acts are all present and accounted for in us.
This is why we will be spending the next few weeks in a series called “Detox” where we will be examining the ways in which we can clear our own hearts and minds of the stuff, the hurry, and the noise that can can run us into ruin, slowly over time.
Our prayer is that through this series we would all become aware of the ways in which we pick up clutter. We hope to become more equipped; allowing God to cleanse us of the toxins that these habits produce in our souls. And ultimately that the Holy Spirit would create in us a clean heart and restore to us the joy of the life he has promised us.
How to get the most out of this series
1. Have a Journal and Pen ready
As we explore the different topics in this series and we work towards detoxing the junk in our souls, I am sure that some “stuff” is going to come up in you. It is important to capture the feelings, thoughts, and responses that can arise in this conversation. I recommend having a journal ready as you read so that you can reflect on the things God brings to your attention and see his grace working in you as you let some of those things go in surrender to him. I can’t tell you how helpful it is to have it outside of your mind and on a piece of paper so that you can look back on it later and say “wow, look what God did!”
2. Don’t do it alone!
Don’t sleep on the power of accountability and encouragement. Similar to the point above, sometimes when we start to examine ourselves, we begin to notice things that need to be dealt with. God always invites us to deal with those things in the context of loving, supportive christian community. As you go through this series, consider inviting a few other guys, or maybe a mentor you meet with, to go through this series together so that you can get the most out of it. Having people who are for you and with you can make the biggest impact.
3. Revisit our Rhythms Series
As you begin to clear out space in your soul, you may find that you want new habits to take the place of these old ones. Be sure to check out The Rhythms Series, our conversation on spiritual practices that we had last summer. These practices can be used to replace these old habits so that you are continuously making space for the Holy Spirit to create in you a clean heart!
INSTAGRAM & TWITTER: @jonathonmurillo
Jonathon grew up in six different states across the Western United States. He made his way to Southern California to attend Vanguard University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. Currently, he is pursuing a Master's of Divinity Degree at Azusa Pacific University where he also works doing campus ministry with college students. Jonathon is passionate about discipleship to Jesus and innovation, especially when those two spaces meet. He aspires to encourage people to live well-curated lives of purpose and passion. You can find Jonathon living in his beloved city of Costa Mesa, California with his amazing wife, Cyndi. Oh yeah, and he is a HUGE Raiders fan.