Once upon a time, there lived three little pigs. These pigs, certain they would be able to make their way in the world, set off to seek treasure and security. Against better advice, the first little pig settled on the first materials supplier he came across, who happened to be a straw retailer. Sitting comfortably on his straw sofa, looking out his straw window, under the straw ceiling he'd recently finished, the first pig spied a suspicious looking wolf tracking his scent. Of course, our little pig was wise enough to refuse the wolf's request to come in, yet seemed quite shocked when his straw structure came tumbling down.
I guess straw houses can't be trusted. Who'd have guessed!
I was recently reminded of this poor, self-assured little pig as I was reading through John 16. Not because the disciples behaved like swine, or because of the threat of the big bad wolf in the Bible, but because the disciples were so self-assured.
John 16:29-33 (ESV)
His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
I, just like the disciples, am so prone to building straw houses of self-assured spiritual position. Basking in the light of my own discoveries, I frolic in the fact that I have reached some new enlightened level of spiritual maturity.
But straw houses can't be trusted. Who'd have guessed!
Jesus blows away the disciples carefully constructed, self-assured confidence, with a single sentence, "Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone." If that doesn't shatter our straw houses, I'm not sure what will.
Christian: Beware of building straw houses, they can't be trusted. Beware of thinking you've arrived, you don't know what sits just around the corner. Beware of feeling you've reached the peak, the valley beyond is treacherous.
Beware... but don't despair.
Take heart, Jesus has overcome the world. He is sufficient for the coming valley. The great shepherd is strong enough to gather the scattered sheep to himself once more.
I'm conscious of two truths:
- I'm thankful for the journey thus far; my God has been gracious toward me.
- I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring; we live in troubling times.
Yet greater than all these is this: Jesus is greater. Jesus is stronger. When the straw house fails, and the house of sticks falls too, Jesus is my fortress and never-failing strength.
Beware... but don't despair.