Of Doves and Snakes: Christ’s Commission To UsJune 30, 2006 at 2:18 am | Posted in Character in Today's World, Christianity | 11 Comments
In Matthew 10:16 Jesus tells us,
“I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
What a strange comparison! I mean, you’d think that Jesus would pick an example or an analogy that is a little deeper and a little bit more profound. You’d think Jesus, of all people, would pick something that would grab the people’s, or even the reader’s attention! But no, not Jesus. Why? Because there was a meaning; a social significance, if you will, behind the doves, and the snakes.
But why snakes? Since the beginning, and going all the way back to the beginning of Genesis, snakes have been known for their cunning. Maybe it was because that was the random animal Satan chose to embody himself in to deceive the woman, or maybe it was something else. But regardless of the reasons, the serpent has always been a symbol of shrewdness.
And doves? Same thing. The dove all throughout scripture has symbolized peace, innocence, and purity. In some instances the dove represents the Holy Spirit. For example, when Jesus is being baptized; the Bible records that the Holy Spirit descended upon like a dove. The dove would also symbolize peace. When the dove brought the olive branch back to Noah on the ark, it was a symbol that God’s wrath had ended and that the Flood was over. So why did Jesus put those two symbols together in one sentence, and then tell us that we are supposed to be both?
God calls us to be innocent, not ignorant of the ways of this world. He wants us to shine our light everywhere we go. And to specifically address this, there are some groups of people that don’t believe that Christians should vote in elections. Because politics and government can get so messy, and downright dishonest/sinful sometimes, they don’t believe that they should follow, support, or participate in it. I disagree with these people. I don’t think you should support politicians that engage in corrupt or immoral practices, but I don’t think you should leave it alone. If all the Christians in the United States “left the government alone” where would this country be? “As the leader goes, so goes the country.” We can’t leave all of the decisions up to the non-Christians. The same goes for current events and controversial issues. Issues like gay marriage, civil unions, abortion, etc. Too many Christians today are afraid of learning about those things, for fear of…well, for fear. Most Christians won’t have a problem disagreeing with abortion, and saying gay marriage is bad. But we don’t want to talk about them, or do anything about them.
Now, most of my readers probably agree with Christians being involved in politics, and that we need to do something about controversial issues. But we need to understand that God never calls us to ignorance. We as Christians do not need to be afraid of sin, we need to be afraid to sin. There is a huge difference between those two letter words. Jesus ate dinner with the tax collectors, and the prostitutes, some of His disciples were criminals. He was not always around the Pharisees. He did not shy away from the sinners. In fact, He rebuked the Pharisees for doing that very thing. In Matthew 9:9-13 we find Jesus calling Matthew the Tax Collector to be a disciple. Especially potent in that passage is verses 12-13.
“…Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
We should not, and cannot, be afraid of sinners or even of sin. That does NOT mean that we shouldn’t have a fear of the Lord, that causes us not to sin. That does NOT mean that we shouldn’t be afraid to sin. In all the time that Jesus spent with the sinners, not once did He sin. The first logical argument that Christians propose in response to this, is the scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:33,
“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
And to this my only response is, absolutely. But, what you have to look at, is the motive. Why are you hanging out with them? Jesus didn’t go to the bars to party. He went to minister. I am not suggesting that you make all your best friends sinners. But what I am suggesting is a paradigm shift. God wants to heal the sick. But someone has to go. Will it be us?
In order to encourage thought, and maybe even discussion, ask yourself these questions.
• Are you afraid to get involved in politics?
• How many “sinners” (unsaved) people do you know?
• When was the last time you witnessed the gospel to someone? (I’m not talking solely about street evangelism; I am talking about hospitality, having them over to dinner, doing something with them, inviting them to church, etc.)
• Where do you draw the line between associating with someone, and becoming best friends?
• Where do you draw the line between your Jesus rubbing off on them, and their bad company rubbing off on you?