I arrived at the church building Monday morning, and there was a snake in front of the door. I am not a snake guy so I didn’t know if it was dangerous or harmless. After a momentary pause, I figured I could get by him easily enough. I know that the building isn’t the church, but the symbolism is striking. There was a snake between me and the church.
The obvious example of the danger of slithering critters is in Genesis 3. We have heard the Adam and Eve story, even with the unbiblical finger-pointing at the apple, all of our lives. We know it well, but do we recognize the serpents that are still lurking? Everyone has one, maybe more than one, that present an obstacle to fully obeying the word of the Lord. It is sometimes hard to hear over the hiss.
They are never obvious, sort of like the wolves in sheep’s clothing. They masquerade in harmlessness waiting to deliver a venomous fatal strike. They swoop in and take the word of God away from the unsuspecting. They fill the pulpits and television screens with feel-good messages that have no biblical content. Viewers are emotionally charged and spiritually empty. They might hear a verse or two but it quickly slips from their mind. Jesus described it as a seed sown on the road (Mark 4:15). The snakes are always hiding in the nearby grass.
They may come at us with the reaction of the world to our beliefs (Mark 4:16-17). Godly principles are under attack from every direction, and those who stand up for them are subject to ridicule or worse. The snakes are expert liars (After all, Satan is their father!), and they describe our ethics as hate-speech and our morality is narrow-minded. It is easy to wilt under the pressure to conform to society, and that’s is one more victim for the snake.
They might come at us as worldly worries (Mark 4:18-19). God expects us to work, but jobs and careers can become an obsession that squeeze Him to the margins of our lives and then out altogether. Our occupation is an opportunity for us to put our biblical principles on display and glorify our Father, not disregard Him. And possessions…well…it’s all temporary. The great danger is that we will not recognize the extremely poisonous snakes in our own garden. Some Christians identify them and chop their heads off before they do extensive damage. They listen carefully to the word of God, accept what it says and produce the fruit that follows. “Good soil” is what Jesus called them (Mark 14:20). They are not “snake-bit.” They are what God has made, and then re-made, them to be. Just be careful. There are snakes between us and the church.