Monday, May 22, 2017

What I Learned at the Zoo

A couple of people have mentioned to me that they had or were going to the zoo which brought to mind my own visit several years ago. I went back to read the post I wrote and felt it just as applicable today as it was then. I hope you enjoy this look back at some of the similarities I found between being an animal at the zoo and being a Christian. Enjoy!

While looking through the pictures I took there, it occurred to me that there are many similarities between the zoo and my life as a Christian. At the zoo, the animals are in their own engineered environment that looks and feels a lot like their native habitat even though that might be thousands of miles away. These habitats will never match the beauty or afford the freedom to the animals of their native habitats. Still, these animals have adapted to their environment and go about daily life as if they were in Africa or China, or the North Pole. While they may seem to be self-sufficient in their habitats, the animals must ultimately rely on zookeepers and veterinarians to care for them and provide for their needs. Throughout the day, the animals are constantly being looked at and watched by hundreds of curious people who are on the other side of a protective wall wanting to learn more about these strange and exotic creatures.

As a Christian, I too am a stranger in a strange land. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, but my home is heaven. However, there is love and generosity, kindness, empathy and respect to be found here on earth just as in heaven. God is God and Jesus is the Savior anywhere on this planet as in heaven. His Spirit in my heart and his presence in my life enables me to adapt to this earthly residence and live my everyday life as if I were home. I can love God and love those around me here, as I will in heaven. But someday when I go home, I will know a freedom that I cannot experience here and now.

I work to earn money to buy food and clothing and secure shelter and transportation, but I rely on God to provide for my needs. It's because of God that I have a job (literally - I'm a church secretary) and that there is food to buy, and so on. I rely on God to care for me. When I feel lonely, I know that I am not alone because he is always with me. I turn to him when I am sick or when my world turns upside down. He teaches and guides me. He loves and nurtures me.

There are many non-Christians that I encounter in my daily living who pay attention to my actions trying to learn more about how and why I do things. This relationship with God that I have is unfamiliar and foreign to them and they want to learn, so they observe how my relationship with God makes my life different from theirs. Some are mildly curious and just gawk at the differences without trying to understand them. Others are very interested and, trying to understand, ask questions.

Many of them do this from behind an invisible protective wall that they've erected (This God-stuff is okay for you, but it's not for me. All religions are the same. If God is so good...). Sometimes the wall is put there by me (I don't have time. I don't want to get hurt. That's not my spiritual gift.). The Bible says that we are not to be of the world, but we are to be in the world. So I guess that means that the walls need to come down. Can you imagine that at the zoo? Complete chaos and fear. And in that scenario, Christians are the dangerous animals. That might explain the hostility we see toward Christians in many parts of the world.

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