Friday, May 25, 2007

The old joke goes, “Where does a 500 pound gorilla sleep?...Anywhere he wants!” I don’t really know how much Bokito, an 11 year-old male silverback gorilla, weighs, but he certainly caused a stir at the Rotterdam zoo in Amsterdam last Friday.

Bokito decided he was tired of the same old grind everyday. I guess eating the same things, seeing the same scenery got to him. He burst out of his enclosure and according to Reuters Press; he went on a rampage through the Rotterdam zoo. The news story does not explain what they mean by “rampage”, but it does tell a very interesting story about his few moments of freedom.

It seems that the first place he went was the zoo cafeteria. Perhaps he wanted one of those burgers he had smelled for years, or maybe he just wanted a cup of coffee and a newspaper. In any event, he headed into the cafeteria.

While on the way to the cafeteria Bokito spied an old friend. A 57 year-old Dutch woman who has so far been unnamed, was quoted as saying, “I stood by the small apes in the Africa section when I heard a thud behind me. I turned around and there was Bokito. I had nowhere to go.”

The woman had been visiting Bokito for many years. She indicated that she and her husband came to the zoo almost every day to see Bokito. She even has baby pictures of the gorilla when he was four months old in the Berlin zoo. However, the face to face meeting with her gorilla friend was not what she wanted. “He gripped me, sat on me with his full weight and began biting me," the woman told the Telegraaf, the local newspaper. "I could only think 'O God, I'm going to die, I'm going to die'."

The odd part of this story is the woman’s reaction to the event from her hospital bed. She says, “He is and remains my darling". She said that the gorilla that sat on her, broke her arm, and bit her so hard that his teeth were covered in her blood, is still her favorite.

We daily act out this very scene in our spiritual life. We sin because we are tempted by the sin. We fall to the temptation, and then suffer the consequences of that sin. When we are beaten up and still recuperating from our wounds, we are right back thinking about when we can do it again.

Bill Cosby does a great job of illustrating this in his one-man-show called Himself from some years ago. He talks about the pains of getting sick after consuming alcohol. He vividly describes the man who, with the room seeming to spin, gets sick from the alcohol. He then says “now don’t forget, you did this because you ‘owe it to yourself’ to have a ‘good time’”. Not long after the experience the man begins to plan the next time he will “owe himself’ a “good time”. He learned nothing. The Bible says “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." (2 Peter 2:21-22 NIV)

None of us are perfect. We all have “sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The old quote stands true. “Those who cannot learn from the past are condemned to repeat it”. If we cannot learn with God’s help to overcome the things in our life then we will continue to wallow in the mire of our own twisted creation.
We cannot control what tempts us, but we can control whether or not we give in. I have not talked with anyone yet who could honestly tell me what the comedian Flip Wilson used to say; “The devil made me do it”. Satan cannot make you do anything. He tempts you and beckons you, but ultimately you make the decision to act on the temptation.

God says that He will help us to learn from our sin, and to be free from our sin. Yes, we can be free from sin. At least we can try to be free from sin. God is not going to program you robotically to correct the things that you can correct yourself. If you think it’s wrong, it probably is.

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1 NKJV)

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