9/30/10

CHINESE MONKEY TRAP

One time, when I was a kid, I was watching a TV show about animals, monkeys in particular. There was footage of monkeys being trapped so they could be sold on the black market for everything from pets to ingredients for some sort of soup.

One of the traps used was a small cage with not just vertical bars, but horizontal bars as well. The square openings the bars made were very small, just big enough for a child’s hand to fit through...or a monkey’s. Inside the cage, in plain sight , was a piece of fruit. The footage showed a curious monkey (no, I don’t think it’s name was George!) who came up to the cage and reached in to get the fruit. The problem was, he couldn’t pull his hand back out while holding the fruit. The monkey’s inability to understand that to let go of the fruit was his means of escape, became his undoing.

Things that allure us, that please us, that spoil us, can indeed, entrap us. When we find that we cannot let go of anything, even something good, then we are truly undone. Jesus says that our lives to do not consist of the things which we possess, He also said that we cannot serve two masters, God and Mammon. Mammon was a pagan god of material wealth...he symbolized what we Christians call “blessings”. He also said that wherever we place importance or priority, that’s where our heart can be found.

Wealth is the easiest to point out because it’s presence is obvious, but it is not bad or evil; the often misquoted Bible verse actually reads, “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil”, not money itself. As I have said many times before, money is merely a tool with which we can accomplish a task, much like a hammer. But when a hammer is misused, like as a weapon, then bad things happen for which the hammer cannot be blamed...rather the user of the hammer is to blame.

When we become followers of Jesus we are shown by His words and the words of His followers, that we are to take care of those less fortunate than ourselves. We are commanded to do so. Jesus even emphasized that we would always have the poor among us. This was His way of saying, “Hey, no matter how good things might seem, there will always be someone who needs a helping hand...no strings attached.”

Jesus spoke more about money and the effect it has, than He did about healing, hell and even heaven, so caring for the helpless, the marginalized, the (as Jesus called them) “least of these”, is a HUGE part of the Gospel message. In fact, Jesus said at the beginning of His ministry that He was here to preach the Good News to the poor. Does that mean the Gospel is not for everyone? Of course not...because we are ALL poor in some way.

Jesus said that the gate we should enter is small and the path is narrow...just wide enough to have to go through in single file - meaning that you cannot bring anyone with you or anything, there’s not enough room. When we follow Him, we can, should and MUST invite others, but our salvation is just that - ours.

So, will we continue to hold on to the fruit and fail to escape the enemy? He may not get us yet; the fruit may even rot in our hand before we find ourselves in captivity.
Or...do we wise up and let it go and escape with our very lives? To then move forward living for Jesus and others is His plan for us anyway, for we are His masterpiece created to perform acts of mercy so that the world will recognize Him in us...and come to Him and be saved.

Think about it.

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