“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6
I once saw a show on cable about odd animal pairings; members of different species that formed a bond. For example, an antelope and giraffe formed a strong bond. It also include pairings between people and animals.
One old cowboy was friends with a ferocious buffalo. That thing would charge the fence when others came near. He damn near lifted the whole fence up and out of the way, almost freeing himself. But when the ol’ boy entered the corral, the buffalo became gentle as could be. This 1 ton behemoth was even allowed in the house where he sauntered around, slow and easy. Didn’t so much as knock a tea cup off a table.
Another guy – and this yahoo was COMPLETELY nuts in my book – got himself in with a pack of wild hyenas. HYENAS!! The host of the show had to stay in a cage so the hyenas couldn’t get to her while he frolicked and played dominance games with this pack of carnivores. By the way, seeing them next to a person, this was the first time I realized just how big those ugly suckers are! He’s even gotten severely bitten and hospitalized when they got a little too zealous in trying to take some dominance from him. It’s taken him many years to become part of the pack, but they consider him a dominant member of the pack now.
After getting over my amazement at what I was seeing, a question came to me. Is sin instinctual? Is sin part of human and animal instinct? Is it when we overcome our instincts to maul and eat each other that we start getting a glimpse of what the new Earth will be like, as Isaiah wrote above? People won’t maul and eat each other. Animals won’t maul and eat other animals, let alone people. Is love and patience, such as the hyena man showed, a glimpse of the real natural order God intended? The hyenas were buddy/buddy with him as long as he could keep that love and patience in front of them. But when instincts come back to the fore…
Let’s continue the parallel. In each case, someone put a lot of work into being loving instead of tasty. In particular, this effort was not only fraught with danger, but real injuries for the hyena guy. But he “forgave” in a sense and overcame the pack. He overcame instinct with love.
Isn’t that what Jesus did? Isn’t that what he’s asking us to do? Just like I saw hyena-man as seriously deranged for his efforts, might we not see people the same way for wanting to overcome a person who is more animal than human with love? And get pretty well roughed up in the process?
Allow me a confession here. I sometime witness people who I can’t help seeing as just animals in human form. They are just so far gone from civilized behavior, it’s hard to see them as people, let alone people with souls.
Should you make the same confession?
Isaiah paints a much better picture of eternal life than we give him credit for. Maybe God uses these sorts of people – and I have no idea if they’re Christian – to show us graphically what Isaiah wrote about? Maybe this show is not just educational or entertaining. Maybe it’s another way God uses the world to get our attention. If we just decide to listen.
I look forward to that day when the instinct is to hug and love, not eat and burp.