Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dead Gator

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
(2 Peter 1:3-7 NIV)

About two weeks ago, we had put the kids to bed and my wife was busy getting final grading done for the end of school. That left me in complete control of the television remote. I leaned back in my recliner and began searching for something manly to watch. There wasn’t much to choose from, so I wound up searching some of the upper channels, and came across Swamp People on the History Channel.

I was immediately taken in. I was looking for a manly show and I certainly found one! Swamp People is a reality/documentary show that follows the daily activities of several Cajuns living in the Atchafalaya Swamp in Louisiana. These Cajuns hunt alligators for a living in the largest swamp in the US.

I was reminded of the show when I read a news story this week from Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas City police responded to an unusual call in a suburban neighborhood. Some kids, playing near a pond, had spotted an alligator in the weeds that lead to the water. The police had heard of alligators being set free in populated areas, they took the call seriously.

The officers talked to a conservation agent who advised them to shoot the gator if they felt it posed a danger. When they arrived, they saw the gator lying in the weeds, just as the kids had described. One of the officers aimed his rifle and shot the gator in the head. When the animal didn’t move, he fired again. This time the bullet bounced off the alligator’s head. They had been shooting at a concrete lawn ornament that the owner had put there to keep people off the property.

Those who are Christians are like that alligator in some ways. We look like what we should be in Christ. We go to church, put money in the plate, teach Sunday School, serve as deacons, or perhaps even pastor a church, but we are ineffective for God’s Kingdom. On the outside, we seem to be strong Christians, but upon closer inspection we are nothing more than a concrete lump. Because we do not allow Christ to breathe His breath of life into us, we remain still and useless. The truly unfortunate thing is when the enemy figures out that our witness has no teeth, he will walk right by us or even over us, exposing our failure to the whole world.

lawn ornament from Lillian Vernon
Peter, who knew a little about how not to do things, tells us that we should have faith, goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. All of these come from a strong relationship with Christ. Without Him living in us, we are no more effective than a concrete gator lying in the weeds. We look the part, but are ineffective.

Make today the day you stop being a “lawn ornament.” Pray to the Father and ask Him to come into your life, that you may be more effective for Him.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:8-11 NIV)