Are you and ostrich, a cat, or an elephant? Do you choose to be like an ostrich with your head buried in the sand? If you can’t see it, it isn’t happening, and everything will be all right. Your little head buried in a dark hole — it’s cozy and safe, even though the world is crumbling around you. Or do you choose to be like a cat? Everyone has heard the term: “Curiosity killed the cat.” You sneak around and poke your head where it sometimes doesn’t belong just so you can get the scoop. You cannot stand to not be in the know.
If you are an ostrich, you may find yourself in trouble before you know it. Choosing to ignore all the problems in your life or the world is not the answer. If you decide to bury your head in the sand when financial problems land in your lap, or when relationship issues arise, or when you need to fix your spiritual life, you will end up burying yourself so deep that it can make it almost impossible to pull yourself out. Deciding to just ignore the problems in your life causes them to grow, fester, and can start to destroy your life and relationships.
The Bible offers us numerous examples of people who tried to hide from their problems. One of the most notable is Jonah. The Lord tasked Jonah with going to Nineveh to preach against their wickedness. But Jonah had other plans. He did not want to do this under any circumstances, and he decided to stick his head in the sand. He thought that ignoring and running from his problem would make it go away. The problem did not go away, in fact, it got worse. Don’t you think that if you found yourself inside the belly of a large fish just like Jonah did, you would start to re-think running from your problems? … Just a quick side note, the story of Jonah has always terrified me. I’m not scared of much in this world, but sharks! The thought of deep, dark water and big fish makes my skin crawl, okay, back to the story… The Lord did not allow Jonah to just ignore his problem. Jonah realized that he had to face it head on and he did. The Lord gave Jonah the opportunity to take his head out of the sand (or out of the fish in his case) and face his problem.
Now if you are a cat, you may find yourself in trouble before you know it, just like the ostrich but for a very different reason. Cats are known for sticking their noses where they don’t belong. They want to know everything about everything. As humans, we are not made to know everything. Our nervous systems simply can not handle it. Trying to know everything that is happening in the world will drive you to be anxious, exhausted, and ultimately unhappy. When you try to insert yourself into everyone else’s problems, your own household will start to suffer. Meddling in other people’s lives is a good way to ignore what is going on in yours.
Jesus spoke on people who choose to be curious like cats. People who want to meddle in other people’s lives. In Matthew, during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us of the dangers of focusing on everyone else’s life instead of our own. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5
So, if you shouldn’t be like an ostrich and you shouldn’t be like a cat, what should you strive to be like? Since we are talking animals, let’s try to be like the elephant. I know, you thought I was going to say dog. In an article on arapahoelibraries.org, they describe why elephants are the best. Elephants have deep family bonds. Calves are raised with help from the entire herd. Elephants are sensitive and caring animals. They comfort their young when they cry and have been shown to have complex emotions. Amazingly enough, elephants are one of the very few species that can recognize themselves in a mirror. Like humans, elephants mourn the death of their loved ones. They gently touch and caress the skull of deceased loved ones with their trunks, and they will pause for several minutes of silence in the place where their loved one dies, even several years after their death. Remember, an elephant never forgets.
Elephants are beautiful creatures that help support each other and stay aware of the world around them. They don’t ignore the dangers around them but stay aware of their surroundings. They choose to help each other as a community instead of looking out just for themselves. Elephants don’t meddle in what is happening in the hippo’s world or the lion’s. They involve themselves with their family and work to make it better. Elephants contain some beautiful qualities that we could learn lessons from.
What should a follower of Christ look like to the world? We don’t want to be an isolated ostrich with our heads buried in the sand, unconcerned for the world around us. We don’t want to be like a cat, so nosey and trying to find out all we can about everyone else while neglecting our own household. And while the example of an elephant is nice, I mean who doesn’t love Dumbo, the apostle Paul gives my favorite definition of what a Christian should look like to the world in Romans 12:9-21.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay, says the Lord.’ On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9-21