Standing in a long line to go through security in the airport, you notice people. There isn’t much else to do but to look at the people waiting alongside you…turn after turn after patience-testing turn. We all know what awaits us at the end of that line, TSA. When it comes to that process, I keep my head down and do exactly as I am told. It’s not the time I choose to stand out or be opinionated or even all that friendly. Nope! The name of the game is making it through with your stuff to get on your flight.
In one of those dreaded long lines recently I noticed a woman traveling alone who was as classy as they come. Everything about her from the way she carried herself to her clothing made it apparent she was a woman of wealth and elegance. Somewhere on her clothing there was a cheetah print. When the time came, she stepped up to the mark where you wait until a bin is available to put your items in. As she was waiting in the left line, a bin opened on the right side. The TSA agent who was trying to move people along met all the stereotypical TSA qualifications: loud and bossy with a tendency to be rude. I am sure she was hired on the spot.
In the agent’s haste to move the line along, she looked over and saw this super classy woman waiting and she yelled, “Hey Cheetahlicious!! Over here!!”. The woman heard her and knew who she was addressing but did not move a muscle toward the right line. She never even acknowledged that the person with all the power in that moment had uttered a word to her. She maintained the same elegant posture and looked ahead to her place in line. When the TSA agent realized she was not getting a reaction from her, she went on about working her own line.
I love that I witnessed this, not only because I got to see the showdown that ended in Cheetahlicious -1/TSA -0, but because I wish more people had this kind of confidence when it comes to people who want to gain power over you. Often as Christians when we are walking out our faith, we let people from the world say whatever they want to us and call us over into their lane. The woman at the airport knew who she was, and she had enough confidence in herself that she didn’t listen to anyone who said otherwise.
In Matthew 10:16, Jesus instructs his disciples, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be as shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves.” As we take the gospel to the world, we are to adhere to Jesus’ teaching about ministry. A general principle he outlines for kingdom work is evident in the simile he uses with serpents and doves in this scripture. He mentions the serpent, apart from sin here. Jesus is only using the animal as an example of his craftiness and shrewdness as it helps the animal.
We are to be on the lookout and wise to the ways of men when we carry the gospel message to a hostile world. But also, we are to exude the innocent nature of Christ. We should remember, innocence does not equate to gullibility. Jesus himself was gentle, kind and innocent, but he also overturned tables, made the fig tree to wither and sent a herd of pigs off of a cliff.
The story of Cheetahlicious makes me think of Matthew 10:16. She was not bowing to the hostility of the world, yet she was not confrontational. Sometimes we cannot avoid confrontation, but most of the time, we can ignore a lot of commentary and behaviors. Don’t take it to heart, stay in your lane and keep moving forward. If we allow everyone who comes along to draw our attention away from the focus of delivering the gospel, we are more likely to get distracted from our heavenly mission.