Few creatures appear more benign than the guinea pig. Only slightly discernable from a Tribble, the soft purring and endearing squeaks of the cavy make it a favorite pet of gentle souls and small children. But despite their proverbial predictability, they can still surprise you. For instance, it is almost impossible to tell when a guinea pig is pregnant. You peek under their hiding place one day and, behold, there where you expected to find one pig is a litter of fluffy piglets. It is as though they fell from the sky.
More than this, though characterized by a patient and even temperament, guinea pigs can show flashes of intense anger Like the “harmless little bunny” guarding the Cave of Caerbannog in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, the guinea pig has a dark side — “a vicious streak, a mile wide” — which when awakened may inflict great harm. My daughter discovered this attempting to separate males who were vying for the attention of a female. With unexpected ferocity, one of the boars latched on to her thumb and bit down to the bone, inflicting a terrifying wound.
In the ER, the doctor (after regaling us with tales of all the gruesome wounds he had seen during his residency at Cook County Medical in Chicago) informed us that for deep wounds, no stitches would be used. “Wound like yours,” he said, “must heal from the inside out.” Keep it clean and give it time. To close the wound on the surface would only increase the likelihood of infection and would prevent deep healing below the surface. Sure enough, eventually the deep and nasty wound healed. There was a scar, but my daughter’s thumb was saved.
As in all our experiences, there is a spiritual parallel. We are often eager to address the deepest wounds with the most superficial and external treatments. Throw more resources over it and it is bound to heal. Yet the deepest wounds must heal from the inside out. Perhaps this is why the social injustices, addressed so pervasively in the Bible, are met with the same prescription – the gospel. The deep wounds that have been inflicted by the sinful depravity of men must heal from the inside. What is needed are new hearts, not merely new circumstances. Yes, there is merciful care like a wound dressing that must be topically applied to the site of social and spiritual wounds to aid healing. But these mercies are not to be confused with the power and source of healing – this is the error of the social gospel. Until hearts find healing in Christ, a mere change in circumstances will only prolong the wounds, inhibit healing, and increase the likelihood of infection.
This is why the Bible does not always prescribe the kind of external social change we expect, even when it acknowledges and abhors the social injustices we experience. This is certainly true of what the Bible says about slavery. While unequivocal in its condemnation of slavery, the Bible instructs slaves to live lives that are transformed even when their circumstances are not. The gospel takes the long view. When men learn to walk in grace, peace and mercy, social transformation inevitably follows. And sometimes it follows quickly. Recall when Paul and his companions came to Thessalonica in Acts 17, their enemies declared, “those who have turned the world upside down, have now come here.” Paul and his companions were not social revolutionaries, but in a short time their gospel had turned their world upside down – from the inside out.
Join us this Lord’s Day, January 20, as we examine what the Bible has to say to us about how we may live changed lives in the midst of unchanged circumstances. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.