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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Lizard and the Light

I published this several years ago. Not much has changed, so I thought it good to repost it.

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

When I recently rehearsed this verse in my mind, I thought of an incident of many years ago when my wife, children, and I lived in San Antonio.

When I first spotted the gecko resting on top of the backyard spotlight, the creature was only an inch or so long. I wondered why it stayed there instead of moving to the grass where it would more likely find food. So, with as much compassion as anyone can feel toward a lizard, I tried to capture the slithering creature to put it in the yard. But at each rescue attempt, it scurried away. I soon tired of the chase and decided it would have to fend for itself.

I needn’t have worried. It fended for itself quite well. Each evening when the sun disappeared behind the south Texas foothills and darkness blanketed our back yard, hundreds of bugs swarmed to the light illuminating the porch. And when the unsuspecting insects settled near the light, the gecko swooped from the shadows and – well, within no time it grew three inches and gained a pound.

Yes, I exaggerate.

But to the point, you wouldn’t think a gecko could illustrate a lesson in spiritual warfare, yet when I saw how fat my little friend had grown, I caught a sense of how deadly is the battle. Like the difference between sunlight and a light bulb, two spiritual lights beckon us: God’s word, the true light, leading those who follow to safety (Psalm 119:105), and various New Age philosophies – artificial light -- leading to destruction (Colossians 2:8).

Given the choice, some might think the artificial would not be as attractive as the genuine. However, religious surveys conducted over the years by the Barna Research Group illustrate how strong the artificial light’s attraction can be.

For example, more than half of Americans surveyed believe we can earn our way into heaven by performing good works. Seventy-one percent deny the existence of absolute truth. Forty percent believe Jesus committed sins while on earth. Nearly that many believe Jesus never rose from the dead. Sixty-two percent deny the existence of Satan. Sixty-one percent believe the Holy Spirit is not part of the Godhead, but simply a symbol of God’s presence.

And the lizard gets fatter.

Each evening, as I sat in my lounge chair on the back porch and watched the gecko wait patiently on top of the light fixture, I was glad people are not bugs and the artificial light – although a powerful seduction – is not irresistible. God has promised those who hunger for truth will find it. Those who thirst for a right relationship with Him will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). While the gecko flicks its tongue and hungrily watches the insects swarming ever closer, the prudent person seeks the true light. Behind the other, death lurks in the shadows. 

Which light is attracting us?


Barb Schoeneberger said...

I really like this post, discouraging as those numbers may be. We are not teaching our young people to think, to ponder goodness, truth, and beauty, or even to value it. We are not showing them how all life is integrated. We do not teach them implication thinking - If I do this, what is the likely outcome? Instead we are teaching them to be narcissists and delusional, cynical, self-justifying parasites. We are taking joy and hope away from them. Only by God's grace will they find Him, and that is why we not only must pray for them but we must also live the Gospel in the way God calls us, through the gifts He has given us. If we are humbly where we are to be doing what we are supposed to be doing, many fewer people will be enticed by error.

Rich Maffeo said...

Perfectly stated: " Instead we are teaching them to be narcissists and delusional, cynical, self-justifying parasites. We are taking joy and hope away from them."

Spencer Sheehan said...

Children respond to strong examples. In a world that increasingly tells you that God doesn't exist, that you do not need Him, that he is not there, it is a wonder that children find strength in the Lord at all. Just as Christ gave us an example to follow, so we too should give our children an example to follow.

Rich Maffeo said...

Amen. However, even with our example, our kids have to fight the culture that calls them incessantly. Many parents lose that battle . . for a time, hopefully, a short one.

Spencer Sheehan said...

That is very true. In order to find truth though, we must many times, in our young adulthood experience that which gives us perspective in order to bring us back more fully into communion with the Lord. I experienced my own struggle w/ atheism in my 20's, because I had strayed so far from the Lord, I could no longer witness the blessings he was bringing in my life.

Rich Maffeo said...

It is more common than many of us think -- our sins blind us to truth. It is only the mercy of God that those of us who were steeped in sin (as I was) eventually came back home. All the more reason to pray for those we know who are still lost.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

They say the British can stir themselves into a state of utter apathy.

I think this is what is happening in the world regarding Christianity and belief in God.

As the world becomes ever so materialistic, and there are advances in every field from medicine and science to the arts and computing; humanity believes that it is God. We have achieved miracles compared to previous generations. We have reached for the stars and beyond, we have extended life cycles, we have done so much that our forefathers never even dreamed of. So the very concept of believing in Someone with a beard sitting there on the clouds above becomes risible at best if not downright old-fashioned.

That's the environment most children are being brought up in.

The future is bright and enlightened ?????

God bless.