As cautious as snakes and as gentle as doves

I was sitting by the bus stop on Denton square when a scruffy-looking man came up to me and asked for some money. I had my headphones in and I was looking at my phone when he walked up, so I was quite startled when there was suddenly a shadow hovering over me. I looked up and there he was, dressed just like what I imagine people who rob 7-Elevens look like. He said he had left his car at a gas station around the corner and was wondering if I could spare a dollar so that he could get some gas. Without hesitation, I told him I didn’t have any cash on me. He apologized for disturbing me and walked away. For a second, I wanted to call him back and give him the $10 I had, but I didn’t and it’s been bothering me ever since.

You see, I’m reading Milton’s Paradise Lost in my World Literature class and whenever I read it, I am forced to questions my beliefs. I ask myself why I believe what I believe and why, if I believe in God so much, I don’t lead a more devout life. After today’s class, I realised that I needed to start living like a Christian, not just talking like one. I decided to try living by the Golden Rule: “Do for others what you want them to do for you.” It turns out it’s a lot easier said than done. A couple of hours after my decision, I was faced with my first real challenge to live up to that adage and I failed.

If I had been that man, I would have wanted people to give me the benefit of the doubt and give me the money, but I couldn’t do it. I kept thinking that I would pull out my wallet and he would snatch it and run off or he was lying about his situation just to get a bit of money. My fear and cynicism overrode my generosity.

Can you blame me? We live in a dangerous world. Just yesterday a student at UNT was kidnapped and sexually assaulted after he got into a car to help the occupants get to where they said they were going. Imagine what he was thinking before he got into that car. Maybe he thought that this was his one good deed of the day. Perhaps he thought that God was looking out for him because now he wouldn’t have to walk in the dark on campus. Instead he got a knife against his neck and a nightmare evening.

Stories like this make it hard to be trusting. In fact they leave me questioning humanity. This world is filled with so much evil and sin. It is frightening. How do you live like a Christian in an evil world? How do you live by Christian values when the rest of the world seems to go against them? How do you keep being generous and trusting, when you are afraid that you are putting yourself in dangerous situations?

Matthew 10 vs. 16 says “I am sending you out just like sheep to a pack of wolves. You must be as cautious as snakes and as gentle as doves,” Jesus never pretended that the life of a Christian was an easy one. He never said that our good works would protect us from the evil. He threw us to the wolves, but told us to guard against cynicism.

I guess I’m starting to realize that being Christian isn’t a once-off decision. It’s a choice you make every day and I don’t think it gets any easier. It probably gets harder as you go through life because you see more and more things that shake you to the core. Somehow you have to rise above the fear and trust that God will take care of you, but it’s hard.

As cautious as snakes and as gentle as doves. Sounds like another thing that’s a lot easier said than done.

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