Are you a zoo or a jungle?

I’ve heard lions roar twice in my life. One time was at the St. Louis Zoo and the other was in Ngoro Ngoro crater in Tanzania. While the event was the same (a lion roaring), the experience was quite different!

I happened to be at the lion exhibit in St. Louis when the lion let loose. I remember watching through the glass/bars as he paced and stretched. Then he let out a tremendous roar that drew people from all the nearby exhibits. It was amazing to see the people flock to take pictures and admire this magnificent beast. I imagine it was the best part of the day for the kids at the zoo.

That event stands in stark contrast to my other experience. I was on safari in Tanzania at the end of a two week long trip. My group was going through Ngoro Ngoro crater and we had just stopped for lunch. We were outside the caravan of Jeeps taking pictures when someone spotted some lions off in the distance. They were a significant distance away, but people got a little nervous. Then, for some unknown reason, the male with the group roared. He sent the majority of the group scrambling for cover. I remember seeing one woman fumbling to open the door, slamming it behind her and locking it for good measure. It was quite the opposite of the zoo. No parents took their children by the hand to bring them closer to the King of the Jungle this time!

I share these stories because I feel like God is asking me, is asking us, “Are you a zoo or a jungle?”

As a Christian, I believe I have the Spirit of the One and Only God living inside of me. The Spirit of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is pulsing through my veins, animating me with the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead. So the question is, how am I treating him?

Am I a zoo, where people can observe God in me at a safe distance, never fearing that the two of them will meet? Or am I a jungle, where the Lion reigns supreme and anyone in close proximity to me had better take note that they are about to be encountered by the Risen Christ on his home turf? Am I a cage confining the Spirit to a lifetime of entertaining religious tourists, or does the atmosphere change when I walk into the room because I carry God inside me and He has the freedom to cut loose?

We all have to choose what kind of environment we will be. Humanity’s default is to put God on display for profit and we must consciously fight against that tendency. We are after changed hearts and lives and that can only happen when we bring the Kingdom of Heaven near.

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