Beware: Country Music Can Kill!

Growth is a funny thing.

In high school, I did an experiment on the effect of music on plants.

I had one control group that I allowed to grow normally without music.

The second group of plants, I exposed to classic rock. They grew taller and thinner than the control group.

The third group I exposed to classical music. They grew shorter but fuller than the rest.

Finally, the fourth group heard only country music. Okay, brace yourself. They died.

(It’s what happened. It’s not a commentary on country music. I was a kid conducting an experiment in my bedroom in the 70’s using a record player. Read into it whatever you will. For the record, some of my best friends listen to country music and they seem quite healthy.)

The point is that there are numerous factors that can affect growth. Even seeds planted on the same day in identical soil in similar conditions will sprout and blossom at different rates.

Christians are like that.

Growth is a process with a certain element of mystery. We can foster it, encourage it, nurture it, support it, inhibit it, stunt it, stop it even but forcing it or faking it generally results in disaster for the plant (or for the Christian).

Forcing growth tends to look a lot like legalism. It sounds like nagging, scolding, lecturing, pleading, and judging. It feels like frustration. It generally results in damage to either the forcer or the forcee.

Faking growth is very common and just as dangerous. Remember the fig tree Jesus encountered in Matthew 21? It looked like it was mature and ready to bear fruit but there were no figs among its branches. This pseudo-maturity resulted in disaster for the tree.

Sometimes, we Christians, fearful of exposing the true nature of our growth in Christ, pretend to be more mature than we are. We risk the same result as the fig tree.

There’s really nothing wrong with appropriate immaturity. We expect immaturity from the young. If your life reflects your actual maturity level, the word for that is integrity.

It’s also normal to have some areas of immaturity if one has been subject to interruptions in growth by disasters or outside forces. One sign of abuse or neglect in children is pseudo-maturity. It can be overcome but not until it’s recognized for what it is.

Faking maturity never ends well. It is, after all, a lie.

I remember once when my daughter was small I was waiting for her to tie her shoes. She had a tendency to move at her own pace, a pace that was agonizingly slower than mine.

As I waited for her, she paused and looked at me accusingly.

“What?” I asked. “I’m being patient.”

“You’re not being patient.” She replied. “You’re acting patient.”

Wow. Nailed to the wall by a six-year-old.

But that is often the topic of conversation in my prayers as well. “Lord, did you notice me being loving today?”

“Well, Lori, I noticed you acting loving. Would you like me to work on your heart so you have the hope of one day being loving?”

God doesn’t want to be the Lord of your surface life. He doesn’t want to skim across the outer layer of your world.

He is a God who permeates, penetrates, infiltrates, percolates, and saturates. He wants you to steep in His love and grace. He wants to infuse you with new life. He wants to invade every aspect of your being and infiltrate your fraud, transfusing it with the lifeblood of truth.

When the believers in Corinth were revealing their immaturity through their pseudo maturity, Paul called them on it in 1 Corinthians 3:4-9

“For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

We need to be honest about our own level of growth. Just as we teach children to imitate their elders as a first step toward maturity, so we should “act” loving as a first step toward “being” loving but we need not to stop there and call it maturity.

God has provided a way for us to be transformed and to grow up to actually BE like Him. That way is Jesus Christ.

When we come to Him in prayer, we need to only be as mature as we are so that He can work the work of growth in our spirits and grow us up.

It is also good for us to encourage growth in others, to nurture it, to support it, and to model it but we must remember that God is the only One who understands the true mystery of growth. If we try to force growth in another believer, we risk uprooting them or breaking them off at a fragile place.

My daughter’s challenge to me years ago sent me to my knees asking God to help me be more than someone who “acts” like Him. I want to actually “be” like Him.

I’ve learned that is not a rapid, greenhouse process but one that takes time and requires some amount of discomfort as He prunes my branches, transplants me to other pots on occasion, and exposes me to the right environments for growth.

Are you growing up in Christ? Do you encourage growth in others? Or are you like twangy, toxic country music making those exposed to you want to shrivel up and wither away?

Good questions to ask God today. I think I will.

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    The Conversation

  1. I did a similar experiment in school. There was the control plant, and then the other one was covered over so it could not receive any light. Everyone else’s dark plant died, just like you would expect. Mine grew taller and healthier than my light plant and all the other light plants. I’m not sure what the lesson there is, but I liked your post and the direction you went toward God based on your experiments.

    Manifest Blog

  2. Carmen says:

    Haha…my husband listens to country music. I like an assortment but grew up on classical. Growth is an interesting thing and I love the way you explained it. I’m doing daycare for my kids (babysitting their kids), and have actually thought about that when teaching them. It’s so much fun…but oh I’m so tired every night! It’s not as easy as it used to be!! 🙂

  3. Well said, Lori. I can never be perfect like God, but I’ll never stop trying to be more and more like Him.

  4. Cheri says:

    Loved your post, Lori!