At tonight’s FOCUSgreek event Sister Mary Helen shared some of her experiences from her time as a Gamma Phi Beta and how her prayer life drew her closer to God throughout her years in the house, eventually leading her to discern religious life. She spoke of the friendships she made and some of the things she faced while living her faith out in the Greek community. During her talk she kept referring to how she turned to Mathew 10:16 when things seemed to be getting difficult. Praying with this verse afterwards, I was struck with how relevant it is to living a Christian life while in a fraternity or sorority.
"Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.”
Let’s start from the beginning; I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves. The term midst of wolves is a pretty accurate description of what it is like to live on a college campus, let alone in the Greek system. There are so many people out there willing to attack who you are as a person, what you stand for, your values, and your beliefs. It seems to be especially hard to be a true Christian who lives out their faith without getting looked down on by a majority of the student body. I think that recently there have been plenty of examples of people standing up for their faith, but getting attacked for voicing their opinion. If something goes against what society tells us is correct, standing up for it only bring stares and snide remarks. But yet, even with all of this turmoil and uncomfort, it is God who is sending us out into this world. He has a special plan for us and wants you and me to be directly in the middle of the Greek system, and often in the heart of sin.
We are His sheep; he has a purpose for us and wants to lead us home. Sheep are often looked upon as these clueless animals who just roam the pastures trusting in their shepherd. Well maybe, just maybe, that is what God is calling us to do. We don’t need to know the answers to everything or win every battle; we just need to be sheep. We need to be the sheep that always trust in their shepherd. If we trust God, our shepherd, with our whole heart, we go about living our lives not in fear, but in peace and joy because we know that we are safe because the Lord is always there watching over us and wanting to steer us from danger. If we live our lives with our Shepherd as our guide, we should never worry, even with the threat of wolves in the distant because as long as we follow the path the Lord has laid out for us, He will lead us safely home.
“be shrewd as serpents”
To be shrewd means to be cunning, good with judgment, or having a clever awareness. He tells us to be shrewd as serpents referring to the slyness that serpents have as they move around, always slightly out of reach and slipping away from danger. Think back to Adam and Even in the garden, the serpent didn’t tell them that God didn’t exist; he simply tried to enter into their hearts and convince them that they could be like God if they would only eat the fruit. What if we lived our lives like this; if we looked through other people’s eyes to see into their hearts and find their emptiness? We would be able to find their confusion and present them with the truth of God that would reach their hearts on a personal level.
What if we had the cunning awareness that Jesus possessed as he spoke in the temples? He was aware of objections that may come his way and knew the best response before he was even questioned. However, he wouldn’t use argument to win them over; instead he would answer a question with a question, stopping the claims against him and causing those around him to think deeper. Jesus teaches us that it is important to be aware of the attacks the world may throw at us and be ready to question the world back.
“simple as doves”
We can all take a lesson from the doves; the birds that fly around free, not held down by the world, but spend every day enjoying the gift of life God gave them. Doves are not worried about possessions or money or the opinions of others. They don’t carry suitcases around with material objects they think will make them happy. Instead, they let each day guide them in a new direction, following the divine call where ever it may lead them. What if we could live a life like this? Not letting anything hold us down and always being open to where the Holy Spirit may call us?
I challenge you to take five minutes and read the rest of this verse below. Close your eyes and open your ears. What is God saying to you as He speaks these words to you? Is he giving you support? Is he asking you to be a witness? Is he calling you to be courageous?
"Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”