There are moments in life where we need to make quick decisions. These are forks in the roads with possible cliffs. Do I raise my voice and lose control to anger? Do I snap back and give a biting, scathing remark? Do I judge someone harshly walking by me? Do I fall back on legalism?
I’m reminded of a quote, one that I put in my book. This verse has stuck with me for a long time. I find it very uncanny:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” -Jesus (Matthew 10:16)
Sometimes, for our survival, we need to make snap decisions, particularly about other humans. Not everyone has our best interests in mind. Often there isn’t leisure time to consider every factor, possibility and scenario when we feel endangered. We live in a fallen world. We need to be aware and vigilant; we need to be like a serpent.
But what about that dove part? That’s interesting too, isn’t it? Doves are often associated with peace, tranquility, gentleness and purity. Can you imagine a dove with a snake’s head and fangs? Besides giving yourself nightmares, it’s so surreal it might be comical.
Jesus used a lot of allegories and comparisons, exaggerations of words and scenarios, in his teachings. I’ve learned it’s partially how Judiasm was taught, a cultural thing. He didn’t pretend humans had his best interests in mind; he knew humans were generally not to be trusted. And I’m being kind in my wording there.
What to do then when we’re faced with small and big decisions everyday of how to treat other people? I think of the serpent and the dove. I think of things like prayer, forgiveness and grace. I read theology books that delve into these issues, too.
When I smack into the evil of the world and become overwhelmed by the darkness, I wonder at God’s patience. Why did he create us bungling humans? He’s not stupid, like I’ve mentioned in previous blogs. An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being couldn’t possibly be stupid. This is all being done on purpose. He’s working with us as the evil swirls about like a perpetual wind storm trying to take us away from Him.
I go back to the serpent and the dove. I stare at them both. And I wonder.