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Food for Thought - Musings

Taming the Tiger

To gaze upon the tiger was to gaze upon beauty. To watch the tiger as it gracefully romped through the low-lying grass was to be awestruck. To see the tiger tirelessly and methodically hunt, pounce, and capture its prey was to be mesmerized, terrified and even horrified. The tiger was a mixture of majesty and power, frighteningly beautiful and just plain frightening. The tiger was dangerous and unpredictable. Many, young and old, male and female, had been maimed, disfigured, ravaged by this beast. And the scary thing was that there seemed to be no rhyme or reason why one person and not another was chosen to be the next victim of this magnificent animal.

As the number of those disfigured by the beast grew, so did the fear of the people. It was decided that the tiger had to be captured and caged. Those who volunteered for this dangerous mission carried with them fear and reverence for the tiger, each one feeling a pervasive apprehension regarding the tigerís awesome strength, quickness and unpredictable ways. The band of volunteers began their quest armed with large nets and tranquilizer guns. Their mission was not to destroy the tiger but rather to subdue this powerful beast, bringing safety to the community and allowing others the joy of seeing and experiencing the majestic tiger from a place of safety and security.

Not everyone was in favor of this plan. Many voiced their disapproval. And the surprising thing was that those who shouted the loudest were the individuals who had been maimed and disfigured by the slashing claws and piercing teeth of the tiger. However, the voices of the protesters were not heard, their wisdom was not heeded, and the party headed out to capture the powerful and majestic tiger.

As they slowly and cautiously approached the tiger, guns raised, nets ready to be thrown, the tiger unexpectedly turned and bounded toward them with teeth bared and claws slashing. The tiger was upon them before they knew it. Three of their party felt the agony of the tigerís claws and experienced the devastation of the ripping and tearing of their flesh by the tigerís teeth. The group of hunters was not successful. But the tigerís attack merely served to reinforce the resolve of the people to capture and subdue this beast.

Another hunting party was assembled and again protests rang out. The three most recently maimed and disfigured by the tiger were the loudest and most passionate voices against the mission. Their protests were not motivated by a fear that others would be maimed and disfigured, but rather their conviction that others would not be maimed and disfigured once the tiger was captured and caged.

The second group of hunters was successful. They returned to shouts of joy from the community. Once the news of the great tigerís capture had spread, many came to see the beast. The beast would roar its thunderous roar, bare its flesh-tearing teeth, and take slashing swipes at those who got too close to the bars. In fact, in the days and weeks that followed the tigerís capture, this beast disfigured numerous people who got too close.

As a result, it was agreed that a barrier should be erected around the cage to protect the people and keep them from getting too close to the tiger. Unfortunately, there were still those mysteriously drawn by the breathtaking beauty of the tiger. These foolish individuals would climb over the barricade and go right up to the tigerís cage. Once they got close the tiger would maim and disfigure them.

Because of the continuing maiming and disfiguring, the keepers of the tiger decided to remove the tigerís slashing claws and piercing teeth. The tiger became a toothless, clawless, roaring tiger that somehow maintained its majesty but in essence was an empty shell, a shadow of its former self. Those who had experienced the tiger in the wild, especially those who had been disfigured and maimed by this great beast, wept and wailed as they gazed upon what it had become.

However, others were now emboldened to draw close to the tiger, and even play with the tiger. The tiger was no longer dangerous, no longer terrifying, but was merely a big cat to be stroked and fed. People would spend their mornings lying on or next to the great beast, no longer fearful of its sharp claws or piecing teeth. This once magnificent beast, which in former times would have pounced upon these people, slashing and gashing them within a whisker of their life, now lay there motionless. This once living and dynamic beast was now a static lump of breathing fur.

Is the story above not the story of God's Word?
There was a time not long ago when God's Word was dangerous, untamed and wild. Those who happened upon it would have their lives ravaged and disfigured. Simple words such as, ďmake yourself an ark, leave your country, I am sending you, follow Me, who do you say that I am, I am the Vine and you are the branches, you must be born again, whoever believes in Me will be children of God, build My churchĒ, were words that slashed and pierced lives. That was a time when God's Word roamed freely, devouring young and old, male and female.

Godís Word was dangerous, untamed, wild and unpredictable, maiming and disfiguring those who came into its path. People such as Noah, Moses, Abraham, the disciples, Mary, Paul, St. Augustine, St. Francis, Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Mother Teresa were overtaken and overpowered by Godís Word, their lives suddenly disfigured, never to be the same again.

Godís Word was living and active, with claws sharper and teeth more piercing than the greatest of tigers. Godís Word has been dangerous since the beginning of time, but no longer, for we have caged, de-clawed and defanged the Word of God. We have used the tools of Biblical interpretation, systematic theology, and modern day hermeneutics to render Godís Word powerless. Godís Word has been caged and subdued by the very tools we use to understand the Bible. We know how God must speak to us through a given passage of Scripture; we know the correct interpretation, the proper application. The hunted, the prey, you and I, have now become the master, the captor and keeper of the Hunter. Godís Word is no longer free to roam but has been caged by our interpretations, our understanding, and our mastery of the Biblical text.

Yet, Jesus still utters His wild, untamed words today to all who have ears to hear and a heart ready to receive. But we too easily dismiss, de-claw and defang those words.

Critical questions stand before you:

Do you dare allow Godís Word to return to the wild from which it came, to be free to roam, to disfigure, to devour and transform your life?

Do you dare to allow God to be God and Godís Word to truly be Godís Word, living and active?

Are you willing to open the cage or do you like Godís Word the way it is: caged, contained and controlled, a static reality that lays motionless and lifeless upon the pages of the Bible?

The choice is yours each and every time you open the Word of God.

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