GONE BANANAS

Passion flowerI have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O Lord, well know. I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness. [Psalm 40:9-10 (NLT)]

We recently attended a program at our local zoo about giant armadillos. The speaker has spent the last seventeen years in the Brazilian Pantanal wetlands conducting research on several species ranging from peccaries to iguanas. Seven years ago, he became enamored by the elusive giant armadillo and it has been his focus ever since he realized this prehistoric creature (about five feet long and weighing up to 130 pounds) is a keystone species. With its many burrows (a new one every two days), it plays a crucial engineering role in the ecosystem; many other animals depend upon those burrows for their survival. The biologist’s enthusiasm for his topic was compelling and contagious. With his incredible passion for these amazing and endangered animals, he admitted to speaking about them whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.

Like many other scientists, prior to meeting the giant armadillo, this biologist did research, wrote a paper, published it, and went on to another project. The more he learned about the giant armadillo, however, the more concerned he became about its survival. Realizing that academic research alone would not save them, he began sharing his passion. He educated people about these secretive and endangered animals and lobbied for changes in land management, conservation, hunting practices, superstitions and even bee keeping. Scientific treatises alone won’t save this animal but sharing its story just might!

Listening to this biologist speak with such fervor, I couldn’t help but wonder why we Christians rarely demonstrate such passion for Jesus. Much of the time, we seem rather lukewarm about God and rarely show that same zeal about our Savior. Moreover, like research scientists, we are often content to limit our activities to the theoretical rather than the practical. But, just as field work and scientific papers alone will not save the giant armadillo, our neighbor will not get saved by our church attendance and Bible study. Our passion, like that biologist’s, must be evident. He’s trying to save animals, but we’re trying to save souls!

The late Christian musician Keith Green is reported to have said the definition of a Christian is someone who’s bananas for Jesus! I imagine that within an hour of meeting this biologist, anyone would know that he’s bananas for giant armadillos. I wonder, within an hour of meeting me, would anyone know I’m bananas for Jesus? How about you?

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” [Matthew 22:37-38 (NLT)]

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