Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Back in November, I was contemplating the nature of Christianity. The more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that Christianity is about keeping a pure heart despite the real world. Wow! Brilliant right? Of course we all already know this, but what does it truly mean? I think it means that we as Christians, should maintain naivety despite reality - and that is essentially what the verse above says.
So what does it mean to be a sheep in the midst of wolves? I think it means that you need to be mentally retarded. Hold on, before you toss my article out the window, let me ask you this: What sheep willingly walks into the midst of wolves, and not only does it not try to hide, but it tries to stand out?
You see in the real world, bad things happen - and these things change us. Even the most gullible of souls will learn distrust after being deceived enough times; The most generous person will learn to be selfish after being exploited enough times; and the most cheerful person will learn reservation after being ridiculed enough times. But Christianity asks us to resist this change for the worse. It asks us to keep being generous, even though we know exploitation will come. Keep being hopeful, even though we know disappointment will come, and to keep being cheerful even though we know sad days will come.
Before I go on however, let me just toss in my little disclaimer: I am not a pastor, nor am I in anyway a subject matter expert. Everything in this article is purely an opinion - and one I would love to discuss with anyone who disagrees.
So as I was saying, Christianity asks us to be retarded - retarded in the world. Retarded because we believe in God, because we have faith, because we love. Yet, there lies a fine line between retardation and stupidity. Because while the sheep in the midst of wolves may be retarded for being there, it must be smart enough to avoid getting eaten. It must be able to tell the hungry wolf from the full, and the pliable wolf from the stubborn.
A sheep in the midst of wolves must not be stupid. Far from that, it must be confident. So confident in fact, that to anyone else it looks retarded. Like the art of the drunken fist, a true master may seem indistinguishable from a drunkard at first, until you find yourself on the floor with broken ribs. So I believe it is with Christianity. A true practitioner need not mention that they go to Church regularly, or that they perform acts of charity. You need not know that they are Christian, to appreciate the goodness in them.
It is this goodness that ought to attract others to us, and it is this goodness that should inspire others to be like us. The selling point of Christianity is not the threat of hell nor is it our reward in heaven, but the inherent good it instills in us as human beings. Heaven, is just an amazing perk. But I digress...
It is my belief, that the hardest step in becoming a true practitioner of Christianity is learning how to be a sheep in the midst of wolves, how to maintain naivety despite reality, how to have faith in the time of adversity. So as we begin the year 2012, I pray that no matter what may come your way, you continue to let your light shine, to escape the wolves, and hopefully even recruit some other sheep along the way. Because that is what we are called to do.
Happy New Year!