“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16 ESV).
“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14 ESV).
I remember an insecurity that gripped me when bowhunting for deer on county land with a high concentration of recently-reintroduced wolves. I wasn’t concerned for my safety walking to and from my stand, nor was I afraid while I was in my stand. I was worried, however, that if I were successful in my hunt, the wolves would smell the fresh blood, putting me in danger.
I enjoy bowhunting in part because of the camouflage and concealment. I like blending into the background and having wildlife pass by very close to my position. I’ve enjoyed having field mice cross over my boots, and chickadees landing on my head, oblivious to my presence.
I’m a natural introverted wallflower. I like blending in, not attracting any attention to myself.
Before I was a Christian, blending in with the world was never an issue. Neither was blending in with the church folk. I have been a regular attender my whole life. The world saw me as just another person. And at church I fit in simply because I was always there.
But when I became a Christian, when the reality of Jesus as Savior AND Lord became a part of who I was, there was an immediate consequence in both worlds. It immediately became clear to me why I fit in at church as well as I did. No one wanted to rock the boat or change the status quo. The majority just wanted to do their spiritual duty and get back to their real lives. I could identify, since that was what I’d been doing all along.
I was hungry to grow my new-found faith, but that hunger stood out like a sore thumb.
Stepping back into the world outside of church was different too. As my attitudes and behaviors changed toward more Christ-likeness, I became less welcome with those I’d called friends. But that worked out alright, because they had changed too–at least in my eyes.
I was teased and talked about. I was just another one of those “Jesus Freaks”. But somehow when life wasn’t going very well, it was to the Jesus Freak that they came.
Jesus sent his disciples, and us by extension, out “as sheep in the midst of wolves”. Wolves are a natural enemy and predator of sheep; what was He thinking???
I think Jesus was telling us that we should never fit in. We need to stand out by our faith and good works. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 ESV). And not only are we to be conspicuous in obedience to God in what we do, but we are to be noticeably different by the things we will not do!
Instead we wear our smiles on Sunday and shake the Pastor’s hand. As we hit the door on the way out we slip back into our wolf suits so that we can blend in. After all, why make ourselves targets when we don’t have to?
If we were supposed to blend in, Jesus would have said, “I send you out as sheep in wolves’ clothing, be deceptively “normal”!
In disguising our faith, are we not really denying it? Despite what Jesus has done for us, are we ashamed of Him as though our worldly peers are more important? Or can we “confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6 ESV).
I’m rethinking my priorities; call it mindful discipleship. I encourage you to evaluate your position and priorities as well. A spiritual check-up is never wasted.
Blessings on your day!