When I was a kid, I used to love to watch a TV show called Wild, Wild World of Animals. As you can probably tell, it was all about wild animals, either in the jungles of the Amazon or the deserts of Africa or the mountains of Asia. But although each show covered different types of animals, it seemed like one member of the animal kingdom made it into every show. This animal made it into more shows than Homer Simpson. Who is it?
Now, from the sound of its name, you might think this is a veracious animal, a monster of the earth with large teeth, quick legs, and sharp claws that terrorized other creatures like the Tyrannasaurus Rex. No, you won’t find a horror movie about the attack of the wildebeests. The wildebeest is basically a large, meaty, slow-moving, defenseless animal that moves around in large packs near water supplies. The wildebeest has “prey” written all over him. If you’re a predator and you find the wildebeest, you basically get a sumptuous menu with drink included.
So, on the TV show, it seemed to me that it went the same way every time. The show about the lion gets to the lion’s hunting, and what are they stalking? The wildebeest. When it’s time to show off the cheetah’s speed, what is he going after? The wildebeest. When the alligator is going surprise attack with his powerful jaws, who’s the victim? The wildebeest.
In the wild, wild world of animals, the prey, the weak is never safe.
Then, I think of Noah’s ark. In the 6th-grade CCD class I teach we talked about Noah’s Ark. One student asked, “Wouldn’t some animals eat other ones?” Good question. All the animals are crammed into a small, smelly space. They are accustomed to staying only around their own types, but now they’re with all types. Predators and prey are right next to each other. I thought of the poor wildebeest.
But you know what? Even with all of its predators combined together on the same boat, the wildebeest made it out alive. In Noah’s Ark, the wildebeest, the prey of preys, is safe.
In the world, we have survival of the fittest, we have predator and prey. Politics, business, education, sports, keeping up the Jones’s, you name it. It’s not a comfortable place for the weak and defenseless. It’s the wild, wild world of animals.
But in Jesus’ Church, it is different. We have the most odd mixture of personalities, and, yes, it’s cramped and often smelly. Unlike your circle of family, friends, and co-workers, you are going to be very close to a lot of people who are very different from you, and you will find all your predators. But you know what? Everyone survives. In Jesus’ Church the weakest of all is safe.
In Jesus’ Church, there is nothing to fear.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall feed;
Their young shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp,
And the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain;
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Is 11:6-9)