A pastor called the children of the church down to the front to join him for a special Children’s Sermon. In his hand, he held a photograph of a squirrel he had printed off of the computer. He had in mind to teach a lesson on “responsibility” using the furry rodent who stows away nuts as an example. When the kids were all seated in front of him, he held the photo close to his chest and said, “I have a picture here and I want you to guess what it is before I show it to you. I’ll give you some clues and see if you can figure out what it is.”
The kids all smiled and the pastor continued:
“The thing I have is gray and it has a big bushy tail…”
The pastor was just sure he’d see some hands shoot up immediately but the kids were all silent. So he kept going:
“This thing has little buck teeth and really likes to eat acorns…”
Still no hands were raised. In fact, most of the kids looked confused.
“It’s small and loves to climb trees…”
Nothing. Just blank stares and heads turned sideways.
“Does nobody want to guess?” the Pastor asked. “I think I gave you all the hints you need…”
Finally a little girl in the back raised her hand tentatively. Relieved, the pastor immediately called on her. The girl looked down at her lap as she spoke.
“Pastor, I know the answer is supposed to be Jesus but it sounds an awful lot like a squirrel to me.”
There is actually a profound challenge hidden in this humorous little story. How many times do people come to our churches expecting to hear about Jesus and leave confused that we seemed to be talking about everything but? I’m always struck by the polls conducted every four years around election time. While pastors on the left and the right clamor for the right to endorse candidates from the pulpit, polls overwhelmingly and consistently show that’s not what the people in the pews want. If I had to guess, they’d rather hear about Jesus. We who communicate love to chase squirrels, sharing our opinions on the great issues of the day, but we serve people who are hungry for the timeless truth of the Gospel. Disciples walking in the way of Jesus are called to fix their eyes upon him and not look back. We are called to preach Christ and Christ crucified. We are called to seek first the Kingdom of God. Everything else is… well… you can guess.
Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…