This post is from Think magazine. It's an amazing magazine that you should definitely subscribe too. They can be found at focuspress.org
On a recent visit to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, our family went on a safari tram ride. Among the wonderful benefits, you get to sit and ride while going through the majority of the park (a definite plus with three little ones) and you get to see the animals in their own environment as opposed to cages. While on this safari, the tour guide told us to notice the markings on the animals. God in His wisdom (my words, not the guide’s) gave them specific markings to help them survive and thrive in the wild. While we know the zebra’s stripes help confuse predators when they group together and the giraffe’s spots are used for camouflage, we learned about other markings, which mean either “follow me” or “watch out—I bite.” While watching the antelope, the guide told us that they lift their tails when in danger—exposing their white fur to silently flag the others and also to be seen and followed by their fellow antelopes. He went on to tell us that animals with black around their mouths are warning, “Stay back—I bite.” We were all very impressed with our new understanding of God’s wisdom in designing the animals. Then I thought how nice it would be if we as humans so clearly had those same warning or leadership markings. If our kids could look at friends or adults and see clear signs to either safely follow them or stay back lest they be hurt. We, as Christians, are obviously supposed to reflect Christ and thus be a light to follow. How many times do we instead present the image that says “warning-- beware,” or simply, “I’m dangerous”?
Let’s look at the Christian who is more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This is more dangerous to our children than the trench coat-wearing guy on the street. Why? The latter is obviously dangerous, and the other is able to get close to your child through deception. How many of the Church’s youth have been led astray by innocent looking—yet deadly—friends, teachers, coaches, even parents? The danger comes from believing a person is a faithful Christian and then ultimately seeing a different side revealed as they take off their mask and leave the church building. Outside the confines of the church building they gossip and become a money-oriented, self-seeking, friend of the world. The revelation can do one of two things to our youth: either turn them off to “religion” because of the hypocrisy or get them to play the game of masks themselves. Many so-called Christians go to worship and Bible class and engage in various activities organized by the Church but are not involved out of love for the Lord, but instead only for the outward appearance of serving God. Parents themselves can be a danger in this deception because our kids are not fooled when they see us read everything but a Bible at home, have an inconsistent prayer life, and watch and listen to any and everything on television, movies, and the radio. When our kids are surrounded by apathy and lack of love for the Lord and His sacrifice on the cross for all of us, we rear a generation who knows not God—and doesn’t care!
On the other hand, the “follow me” Christian isn’t necessarily vocally saying, “I’m the one to follow because I have it together,” but his or her life is a consistent example of selflessness, sacrifice, love for the Lord, and gratitude for the sacrifice Jesus made for us while we were yet sinners. These Christians live the life they project on Sunday. When they are out of the public eye, their Bibles are open. They aren’t waiting to be fed just on Sunday but eat at the feast the Lord had provided in His Word every day. They live on their knees in appreciation of the privilege they are granted to come to the very throne of their Heavenly Father any moment of the day. They guard their hearts, eyes, and minds by restricting what they put in through the medium of entertainment. They care for their children’s souls by training and disciplining, and not trying to just educate them in the ways of worldly success. These are the teachers who want the kids to get excited in class and seek out the wisdom of God, and they prepare their lessons with that desire in mind. It is the parent who still prays whether they are out at a restaurant or alone at home. They are the friends who are there even when it is not convenient. It is the citizen who goes out and votes because he knows his one vote matters. It is the way God wants His people to be: honest, true, and giving their best as a spouse, parent, employee, boss, in any and all walks of life.
Which one are you? Does your life encourage others to follow Christ just as you do, leading by example and glorifying God? Or, are you known by your “markings” to the contrary? Though you espouse Christianity, does your attitude and actions tell others “stay away”! Let’s make it a point to examine ourselves and see whether or not we are truly in the Faith. Like the animals at the zoo, we too will be known by our markings—the fruit of our lives.