The way the story was told to me a small-town zoo’s only monkey died and the keepers didn’t have enough money to replace him.
The monkey was the zoo’s biggest draw, and, not wanting to lose visitors, zookeepers came up with an idea. They put one of their employees in a monkey costume and had him eating bananas and swinging from trees.
One day, he swung a bit higher than he should have, lost his grip, and flew out of his exhibit, landing in the cage of an African lion. He was so scared that all he could manage was a faint “help.”
The lion rushed over, stopped when he got really got close, and whispered: “You’d better shut up or you’ll get us both fired.”
The Bible makes clear that God doesn’t want us to be pretenders. He made us to be us, and he doesn’t want us pretending to be what we’re not.
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He was especially tough on the scribes and Pharisees, who were the religious leaders of that day. These people wanted others to believe they had special relationships with God.
Jesus, however, saw them for what they were. He called them hypocrites.
“You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).
As the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful Lord of Glory, Jesus is in position to know us like nobody else. We can’t fool Him.
The story is told about a woman who once spotted Robert Redford in a hotel lobby. She followed him to the elevator, and nervously asked: “Are you the real Robert Redford?”
As the elevator doors closed, he answered: “Only when I’m alone.”
Who we are when we’re alone, when no one else is looking, that’s who we really are.
That realization should be more than enough to make us eternally grateful for the mercy and forgiveness God has extended to us through Jesus.
We may not eat bananas or swing from tree branches, but most of us have been known to act like something we’re not, as if we have it all together when we know fully well we do not.
There’s a bumper sticker that once was very popular that said: “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.”
If ever in our pretending, we end up in the presence of a lion, let’s hope he’s the Lion of Judah, our own Lord. He’s a personal friend to all believers, despite their shortcomings, and He offers great hope to us all despite our sin.
“My little children, these things I write unto you, that you sin not. And if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one” (1 John 1:1)
Roger Alford offers words of encouragement to residents of America’s heartland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.