January 14 - The Strangest Creature


By Douglas W. Martin

Today's Scripture: Matthew 10:16

Central Thought: Christ expects us to use a blend of gentleness and wisdom to be different from the world and to minister to those in the world.

    The exploration of some of the most-out-of-the-way places on our globe has resulted in the discovery of strange creatures. Deep down in the ocean, special diving submarines equipped with cameras and lighting encounter aquatic life never before seen by human eyes. Some of these creatures have chemical reactions that make them glow in the darkness. Some live near incredibly high temperatures of volcanic vents. Others have unique characteristics that enable them to survive at great depths, in extreme temperature, and in impenetrable darkness.

    The vast deserts of our planet also are home to uniquely gifted creatures that cope with wind, sand, and heat remarkably well. The snow-blown expanses of the Arctic and Antarctic have signs of life all over. As we look at this range of unique animals, we cannot help but note that they look strange.

    As Jesus described His ideal for His followers, He noted a strange blend of characteristics represented by two very different animals, the serpent and the dove, two animals that would be candidates for a most-different-animal contest.

    The serpent is renowned as a symbol for cunning and shrewd dealings and is the creature featured in the fall of man. The dove universally symbolizes peace and is an indication of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was the dove that indicated the presence of the Holy Spirit at the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Man and most animals recoil when they are confronted by a serpent. Although a few species of insects may fear the dove, it is not feared by man or animals.

    Jesus blends the symbol of the serpent and dove into the strangest of new creatures. He urges his disciples to have the shrewd cunning of the serpent and yet retain a harmlessness typified by the dove. This challenge doubtlessly requires the loss of an instinct of self-defense as well as a love for truth. What a powerful combination to find the greatest wisdom completely surrendered to a love for peace between man and God. The new creature He is crafting us to be is rather strange indeed!

Devotional Prayer: Lord, You are the creator and You have created me to live a life that is pleasing to You. You have called me to finish a task You have begun. Grant to me a wisdom that comes from You and is peaceable and pure. Help me to submit to Your hand so that such wisdom might be used to bring peace between men and God.

Today's Bible Reading: Genesis 30:1-31:16; Matthew 10:1-25; Psalm 12:1-8; Proverbs 3:13-15