Saturday, December 10, 2011
Petting the Tiger--Long Arms are Harder to Bite
Sometimes we forget that teeth and claws are dangerous. Yesterday, my sister related her latest adventure at an exotic animal rescue facility. The day she visited, they had three tiger cubs she got to pet and play with. Still too young to have teeth or claws, they frolicked like any other kitten--jumping, rolling, cuddling. She remembered, luckily, that in a matter of weeks, these little balls of fur would mature into the wild cats they were born to be and the kind of play she enjoyed that day would become impossible, but for then, she could relax in the company of a wild beast.
I couldn't help thinking about the dangers we, as Christians, sometimes toy with.
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.--1Timothy 4:1
If you study the Scriptures, you know that these are the last days. The dangers described surround us now, and in growing measure as years pass, every bit as dangerous as a tiger's teeth. We tend to think that we are safe in church but, as Timothy tells us, we are not. Believers today are not immune to the same temptations suffered by pharisees and pagans in Christ's time. Sanctified zealousness easily becomes crippling legalism. Yearning for the Spirit develops into charismatic idolatry.
We embrace appealing leaders too tightly, even in the church, if Christ is not in place as our only head.
We strain our ears to hear a word from God, so eager to share divine knowledge that we fail to adequately test what we hear. We trust experienced men and women of faith to lead us toward God and sometimes they do, but sometimes they do not.
Anything that comes through the lips or pen of another human being is suspect, and grows more so with every passing year.
Unfortunately, our love for God often becomes too entwined with our love for His people and the vine that should be Christ's alone eventually takes on other faces.
When this happens, be ruthless. I have to sift everything I hear from everybody through what God says in the Bible. No exceptions. It's not easy. I want to believe what God's people tell me. In the end, though, looking to one another rather than standing side by side and looking together to Christ always brings calamity.
Just as a longer arm more easily holds a soon-to-be-dangerous tiger cub at bay, so does our longer spiritual arm when it reaches past a dear and familiar world directly to God. He wants us to do this. He wants us to look directly into His face and to say, like Samuel,
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.--1Samuel 3:10