For you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? … Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards you need to become a fool to be truly wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. [1 Corinthians 3: 3,18-19 (NLT)]
Two cute chameleons have recently been featured in a national paint brand’s television commercials. While picking paint for their living room, the lizards change color to match the hue of the paint chip they’re examining. Famed for their quick camouflage ability, chameleons’ change of color also depends on their level of aggression, their mood, the temperature, and their desire to mate.
Sometimes we Christians are a bit like chameleons in that we change our behavior so that we, too, can blend into the world around us. That’s what the early Christians of Corinth did. They lived in a moral cesspool, sort of a first century combination of Rio, Las Vegas, Bangkok, Amsterdam, Tijuana, and New Orleans. Immorality and sexual sin ran rampant in this Grecian city that had a temple dedicated to Aphrodite complete with 1000 prostitute “priestesses.” Surrounded by sin, those early Christians became chameleon-like by trying to blend their new faith with their old lives. More worldly than spiritual, they argued with one another, church members took one another to court, sexual perversion was accepted, the church divided into cliques, they questioned the resurrection and people even got drunk at the Lord’s Supper. Unfortunately, the early Christian church in Corinth looked way too much like the rest of the corrupt city. Paul made it abundantly clear to the new believers that they could be Christians or Corinthians but not both! He wasn’t telling them to move, but he was telling them to separate themselves completely from the Corinthian way of life.
Sometimes, like the Corinthians and chameleons, we want to blend into the world around us; mistakenly, we think we can keep our old life even as we take on a new one. Christians, however, aren’t meant to blend into the sinful world in which we live. Unlike the commercial’s chameleons, we’re meant to clash with the world. Our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control should make us readily recognizable. Moreover, unlike the chameleon, we should remain the same even when we feel threatened, are in a bad mood, find ourselves in hot water or want to attract a mate.