Snakes have been an object of fear for people for a number of millennia. The fear is primal, revolving around the potential of a snakebite that may result in death. While not all snakes are poisonous, perhaps the most famous of the poisonous species is the cobra. Throughout history it has invoked fear, worship and fascination by the human race. The effects of the venom are primarily neurotoxic in nature, meaning it paralyzes its victim who dies when the effects reach the respiratory or cardiovascular system. The death of stillness.
Many people associate sin with things like murder, adultery, stealing or lying, and while all of those are certainly sin, the apostle John in writing at the end of his life is particularly concerned with a category of sin that gets very little attention in our day and age. He calls it a love of the world. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15–17). In this warning he is not speaking of loving the planet but rather a philosophy that dominates the cultures of our world. This philosophy focuses on anchoring our lives here and filling our own desires now. The philosophy in all its manifestations destroys a genuine walk with Jesus. A walk of faith with God leads to the realization that we are pilgrims in this world and must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 11:13-15). The seductive pull of the world’s philosophy is an invitation to settle down and fit in here while the call of Jesus is to be bright lights in a world whose philosophy is darkness (John 3:18-21). Any foundational understanding of this comparison recognizes that the two philosophies are utterly exclusive of one another. When light is present darkness is banished and can only return when the light is extinguished. Jesus' message to the church in Laodicea (a remarkable parallel to the world we live in today) identifies the world-darkened philosophy of that church in Revelation 3:17 “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” But Jesus’ analysis is quite the opposite “and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” The love of the world utterly paralyzed the working of God in Laodicea and the Apostle John declares that that is the universal result of embracing the worldview and agendas of our fallen cultures. The world acts like a neurotoxin. Injected into our spiritual life it creeps up our limbs making us slow to move and seeps into our heart and destroys the life that comes from God (1 John 2:15). The world’s ideology injects itself through many different venues: family, jobs, friends, news, stores, online, entertainment, and finds an ally in our sinful hearts and its propensity toward those things. “Settle down, help yourself, it won’t hurt, you deserve it, there is nothing wrong with it, you know you want to…” Who on this planet has not known the pull of its siren song? I know I have and do. Who ever thought a cobra could be so attractive? We make excuses for them and treat them as pets.
The call of Jesus is to recognize things as they really are, not as the world claims them to be; to realize that every time we embrace that worldview or the things that convey it the spiritual poison begins to spread. What are the cobras in your life? They can be found in every area where you are justifying doing something that you know disconnects you from God; this can be through overt disobedience or allowing God to be de-prioritized in your life. Need help seeing it? Ask for help from the One who never says no, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:18–20). The call of God's heart of love is “I want to be with you! I've been knocking for a long time…will you let Me come in?”