Warning: Naked hermit crab parading about.
The Psalmist asserts that all creation declares God’s glory. In other words, every facet of creation, including its processes, from the majestic mountains to grains of sand from the fierce mother bear protecting her cubs to the busy worker bee scurrying about in community and, yes, even funky crustaceans, tell us something about God – His character, His ways and His made-in-His-image masterpiece, us.
A hermit crab eats and subsequently grows, but his shell does not grow. This dilemma leaves the hermit crab with options: diet or shed his shell and go house hunting. Since hermit crabs are not prone to self-imposed dietary restrictions, when he is ready, a hermit crab simply “un-attaches himself” from his shell and walks out, naked. Conversely, have you ever tried to pull a hermit crab out of his shell? The experts of all things hermit crab say it is impossible to do apart from boiling the hermit crab! Fascinating isn’t it? Of course, boiling the hermit crab would kill him.
A hermit crab’s tenacity to hold onto his shell – his home, his protection, what’s comfortable and familiar – reminds me of the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ days, and, if I’m honest, myself. (And, at the risk of being accused of speaking heresy, it reminds me of many conservative American Christians.)
As Jesus traveled through the region, He taught, preached, and lived out His message. The religious leaders, His primary opposition, refused to accept Jesus’ offer to feed on Him, i.e. chew on His radical teachings, swallow His lavish love, and digest His extravagant grace, for themselves or others. Subsequently, they did not grow nor could they be pried from their homes – the God-restricting, burdensome list of do’s and don’ts that formed their man-made shell of religion.
Because of His desire for genuine relationship based on mutual love and trust, God has chosen not to boil His made-in-His-image masterpiece in order to separate us from our shell-homes, even when they stunt our growth, weigh us down, or distort our image of God and His power. Instead, God gifted us with choice, to choose Him or reject Him. To feed on Him, and subsequently grow or to stifle and stagnate.
Submerged in the Gospels, feeding on Jesus – His character, His ways, His mission – I have…
chewed on teachings about God’s right-side up, counter-cultural values of society,
the meek inherit the earth
the last place is the place of honor
a child-like faith exemplifies spiritual maturity
swallowed a love that is GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY for ALL
for the Jew, the Christian, the Muslim
for the gay, the straight, the social elite, the outcast
for any man, woman, and child that willingly follows Jesus
digested a grace that knows NO BOUNDARIES, no sin beyond a healing touch
to find me in my deepest pit
to wash me of my darkest shame
to turn my ashes into a crown of beauty
…and, suddenly, I realized I had outgrown my shell. So, I outed myself, un-attached from my shell and walked out, naked.
Still wondering when Jesus will show me my new shell-home – roomy enough for Jesus' extravagant love and grace, adequate shelter from life's storms, and more fitting for following the radical ways of real Jesus.