The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 9/21

Posted on | September 21, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 9/21

Scripture reading: Romans 12:9–21

The Porcupine Predicament

Love one another just as I have loved you. (John 13:35)

I’ve never seen a porcupine in a pet store. People are willing to lavish affection on dogs, cats, parrots, and goldfish. Amazingly, some will even invite a tarantula or a boa constrictor to live in their bedroom! But no one wants a porcupine. It’s not difficult to understand why. These animals get their English name from the Latin porcus (pig) and spina (thorn). Literally, they are “thorny pigs.” As many as 30,000 quills are distributed across their back, sides, legs, tail and head. Talk about self defense! Just try coddling one of these little fellows in your arms and you’ll immediately understand why they have so few friends!

Not only are porcupines unpopular with humans, apparently they don’t even like each other. Sheep come in flocks, buffalo in herds, geese in gaggles, and whales in pods. But porcupines? They travel mostly alone, and for good reason! Courtship is risky business if you are a thorny pig. A girl porcupine’s “no” may be the most widely respected turn-down in all the animal kingdom.

There is a message here. The “porcupine predicament” helps us to understand better the great challenge in all human relationships: Is it possible to get close without getting hurt?

We humans crave intimate relationships because we are lonely. But when we take the risk, let down our defenses, and try to get close, Yeeeooowee! We find a barbed quill embedded in our skin. These darts have different names (rejection, betrayal, apathy, jealousy, resentment, lies, etc.), but they all carry the same message: back off, unless you want to be hurt!

It takes some of us years to discover that we live in a world of porcupines. They are everywhere: at work, next door, on the golf course, in the classroom, at the dinner table. Our parents, siblings, spouse, and even those cute little children . . . they’re all “thorny pigs.” These bristly creatures are found at church, too. They serve the coffee, take care of the nursery, and are sitting on the next pew. There’s even one in the pulpit!

But here is the rub. The “porcupine predicament” is more complex than you think. The problem is not just them. Look in the mirror. You’re a spiny pig, too!

When Jesus commands us to love one another, he is inviting porcupines to dance. He knows the dangers. He knows the risks. He offers no guarantee that you won’t be hurt in the process. But he also knows that his Gospel offers the only remedy for the “porcupine predicament.” Because God loves me, quills and all, I can love you, quills and all. His grace provides a safe place where I can begin to let down my defenses and let others in. If I do this . . . maybe you will, too.

Wanna dance?

But how can we love someone if we don’t really like him? Easy . . . we do it to ourselves all the time. We don’t always have tender, comfortable feelings about ourselves . . . But we always love ourselves: we always seek our own good. —Peter Kreeft

point to ponder • It’s impossible to get close to someone without taking the risk of getting hurt.

prayer focus • God’s gift of grace for those who have to dance with you

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