“he stirreth not, he moveth not. The ape is dead.”
– Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene I
I wonder often about my inability to act out my faith. I have known, since I was a boy, that Jesus died to save me. He lived the life I couldn’t live, and died the death I should have died. My understanding of the significance of this sacrifice is an ongoing part of my Christian journey. In spite of the knowledge in my head and the transformation of my heart, I am lazy. There are days in which I feel an agreement between my actions and God’s directives. Days when I read my bible and pray often and mimic the actions of Jesus in my interactions with students or my wife. But there are also days that lack in beauty or fruitfulness. With Jesus’ actions and purity counted on our behalf, with our hope of eternity secure, why does it matter what the Christian does? How long can we sleep before being counted amongst the dead?
In the line above, Mercutio uses a simple observation to figure out if the ape (Romeo, in this case) is dead. Let’s adapt it, not for the sake of pointing a finger at fellow Christians, but as a way to remind ourselves that Jesus is calling us to life and life to the full:
1. He stirreth not- Picture the dead ape. You can just imagine coming upon it and wondering… is it really dead? The proverbial poke with the stick comes from sermons on Sunday or accountability groups or community. If we are unmoved when we hear the gospel, if we are unwilling to respond to our accountability partners or friends, if we retreat from the company of those we deem “judgmental” instead of helpful… we may need to examine our hearts. In fact, the Holy Spirit has been designed to stir you to be more like Christ… If you continually feel the tug and stay asleep, it’s time to respond.
2. He moveth not- A Christian that continues to learn more about his brokenness and more about God’s great grace should be moved to action. Think about how different a sleeping ape would look in comparison to an ape charging at you from the jungle. One is clearly alive, and active, and in this not-perfect example, terrifying. We know, in truth, if we are moving. We know if God’s overwhelming goodness is calling us daily into action. We know the difference between sleeping and waking.
3. The Ape is Dead- We are terrified of the idea that someone’s faith, especially our own, might be dead. God, after all, is far more powerful than our lazy attitude or our sin. We know this. But then echo some of the warning’s in the Bible… James explains that faith without works is dead. Jesus claims there will be people that thought they knew him, but didn’t. If we feel that someone we know and love isn’t active in their faith, shouldn’t we desire to wake them up? If we ourselves have been lulled to sleep, if our faith has become a cold and dusty thing, shouldn’t we want the same?
This is not a call to legalistic living. It’s a call to a vibrant, life to the full faith. As Anis Mojgani would say, go and “shake off the dust”. And as Aslan would say, “Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be talking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.”
Have a good Monday!