Worms, Skunks, Gorillas and Elephants

Have you ever been in a discussion or meeting where there were major issues on everyone’s mind, but they were too uncomfortable to bring up? Two successful books published a number of years ago were titled: “Adventist Hot Potatoes,” and soon after "More Adventist Hot Potatoes.” These books brought up several operational, functional, and spiritual topics within the denomination that badly needed attention… but would typically never see the light of day. So, endearing terms from the animal kingdom are often used to describe such difficult topics: there’s a “gorilla” or an “elephant” standing in the room that nobody is willing to point out. How about not “opening a can of worms,” or “throwing a skunk up on the table.”

Sadly, it’s usually a new or uninformed person that notices and says something about one of our dear “animals” in the room. These unwary messengers are notably immediately shut down, ostracized, and excluded from any future discussions or meetings, and then they seem to magically just fade away. Jesus was one of those very messengers, but He certainly wasn’t uninformed, and He certainly didn’t fade away. Regardless of how skillful and loving Jesus was in presenting issues, many of His listeners suddenly had an uncontrollable urge to either run Him out of town or plot His death. John the Baptist lost his head for saying anything about the king’s illicit marriage. Stephen was stoned to death for sharing truth, but incredibly Paul survived being stoned and run out of town… but even he lost his head in the end.

You don’t have to look very far in today’s media to see ALL these tragic behaviors on public display. You also don’t need to look very deep to find out that there’s religious or anti-religious motivations underlying all the massive anger and hatred. Jesus said, “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think he offers God service.” (John 16:2) That time is clearly here on display for all to see, but now the hatred, fear, and greed is coordinated on a global scale.

The point of this article isn’t to identify any “worms, skunks, gorillas or elephants.” The message is for each of us to open our eyes… and recognize when we are (or are not) being led by the Holy Spirit when facing important issues or emotions that well up inside us. We may indeed need to discuss and resolve a number of difficult issues, but first we must take all those issues and lay them at the feet of Jesus. Jesus suffered terrible trials and faced strong temptations without sinning, and He was hung on a cross… because He dared to reveal the whole truth to the world in love, complete with all its “worms, skunks, gorillas, and elephants.” Jesus has the power, authority and the experience to bring us victory in the midst of all of the trials and issues we face, every day and every hour.

Each one of us needs to prepare our hearts now for the prophesied “shaking” that every church must face soon, when we are told that the “church will appear to fall”, but it won’t, because Jesus will be there with us every step of the way, preparing the church to take in all the searching souls who are looking for the real Jesus and savior. Amen!

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