Swimming With Sharks
I love shark week! I find it fascinating to watch people get up close to these dangerous creatures. I would never do it! However, watching others makes my heart race. I watched one show called Laws of Jaws and the shark professionals were recreating scenarios where sharks attacked humans and trying to figure out what it was that caused the situation to turn aggressive. It was intense! The thing they kept repeating during this show was that the ocean is the sharks home and when we enter, we’re actually exploring somewhere that isn’t ours.
As I’ve thought about this, I think we can liken it to being a Christian in the world. This world isn’t our home. We don’t actually belong here. We are sojourners in a foreign place. Sharks naturally breathe well and swim well under water, but humans don’t thrive in that environment. We need special equipment because we thrive under different laws of nature. In a similar way, Christians are governed by different rules and laws than the natural ones that those who don’t believe in Christ are living under. We’re following different commands.
I would assume that humans seem strange to sharks. We’re creatures that look and operate different from what they are used to. Christians naturally seem strange to the world. We operate differently from what the world is used to and values. We’re living for a different world. We’re seeking a different home. Naturally we will seem strange.
In the shows I’ve been watching, the common theme I notice with the experts is that when they find themselves among sharks, they are gentle. They realize they are not the ones who belong, but are the guests. Most of the time they aren’t trying to assert dominance. They may have to push against the sharks if a situation calls for it, but more often than not they are acting as strangers in a foreign land.
Jesus is often called a friend of sinners. He was liked by many who were of the world. He was different than the average religious person of his day. He didn’t come with fire and brimstone, but instead, he was kind, compassionate, and gentle. Certainly, he spoke truth when it was called for, but he also loved people where they were. Jesus knew how to swim with sharks and I think we can and should learn from him.
As Christians, we can sometimes act more like Pharisees. We may look down on those engaged in sin. We may try and steer clear of them all together because we think less of those people. On the opposite side of the coin, we may try and avoid them because we’re scared. We don’t want to get wrapped up in worldly things. We might be afraid we’ll get sucked in. Both of these are wrong responses.
We are called to look like and learn from our Savior. We’re called to love people where they are. We’re called to be kind, compassionate, and gentle with them. We’re called to speak the truth in love. Certainly there are situation we should avoid just as a shark expert knows when it’s time to get out of the water, but we are not called to avoid the water altogether. Instead, just as the experts are students of where they are going, so we too should be students of the culture and world around us. We should be able to speak to things they care about with a biblical worldview. We should be able to be in their world without getting held under by the current.
Sharks are fascinating. When you know how to be around them things seem to rarely go wrong. Christians are called to love a world that is not their home and speak grace and truth. We need the conviction to know how to be in the world, but not of it. We need to swim with the sharks.