1 Peter 3:12: For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought much about being a predator. We are, you know, and while I realize that most of us don’t run down our prey, rip it to shreds with our claws and devour the meat raw (although I’ve know some middle schoolers who are perfectly capable to doing everything on that list), we are still, in a sense, predators.
A friend of mine likes to walk in the woods behind her house. One day she came across five deer, four does and a buck who of course scented rather than saw her (since deer are legally blind during the daytime) before she saw them. The deer alerted and prepared to dash off, but my friend knew that if she looked directly at them, they would run since humans have predator eyes. She covered her eyes with her hand and peeked through her fingers. The deer stayed where they were for a few minutes and then calmly walked off. In their minds, she did not present a threat although she could have had a rifle or a bow and arrow. But she didn’t, and she knew how not to startle the little herd.
Like everyone else, I take my predator nature with me, including to the gym. As I walk in, I’m looking for cars of people I know to see who might be there. Like any number of animals, I want to identify other friendly creatures. I walk in, identify myself as part of the herd of exercisers with my smart phone, and make my way to the locker room, scanning the room not only for what the military calls “friendlies,” but also for threats. There aren’t too many threats at L. A. Fitness beyond my own weight, but I scan the room nonetheless. It’s instinctive.
If I see someone I know, we talk to each other and so recognize our relationship like a cat running down the steps to greet her owner when “her” person comes home. Once I’ve changed into my workout clothes, I spend ten minutes on the treadmill and, except for the furry coat and blinding speed, I run like a big cat. Unlike the cat, I don’t run for food, but to try to take off the results of too much food. As I exercise, I’m constantly aware of people around me, although they are all members of my tribe. This was brought home to me last week when I stopped at the watering hole (aka the drinking fountain) to fill my water bottle. Someone had left seven cents in change on top of the fountain’s casing. I didn’t take the money not only because I’m honest, but also because it might belong to someone I know, someone who is part of this clan of exercisers. If I saw the same change on a sidewalk or in a parking lot, I’d take it with hesitation. I don’t know who dropped it, so I don’t hesitate to take it. It could very well be one of my daughters who dropped it and I would be stealing from them, but I don’t know that unless they tell me that they dropped seven cents at L. A. Fitness, and I doubt they would bother to do that. If they did, I’d give it back to them, again just not out of honesty, but because we are related.
So, we are predators, and we will do anything to protect our herd, group, clan, organization, or family to insure that we’ll continue to survive and lead useful, productive, happy lives and leave a legacy of children or art of whatever else we have been about.
As Bette Midler sang in “From a Distance,” “God is watching us,” but the God who created us and made heaven and earth is not looking down on his creation with the eyes of a predator. No, God looks on us as children with eyes of the most incredible love that anyone has ever experienced. And God calls us to own our human nature, to realize that we do not have to act on these primitive impulses, and instead live to share God’s love by showing love, spreading joy, practicing peace, demonstrating patience, fostering kindness, sharing goodness, proving faithful, displaying gentleness and maintaining self-control.
We are indeed wonderfully and awesomely made, but we need grace, love and peace from God to overcome our animal nature and to grow into the full likeness of Christ. And may this be so for each of us. Amen.