TONY ELDER: Be like Jesus in your Christianity -- fierce as a lion, gentle as a lamb

Be like a lion and a lamb

Can you believe that the month of March is here already?

So what's the weather like today? There's the old saying that if March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb, and vice versa. So if it's stormy or windy on this first day of March, then it will supposedly be calm and pleasant at the end of the month.

From what I understand this proverb doesn't have a very good record for accuracy, but it can be an interesting idea to observe and check out this time each year.

I don't know who came up with the specific members of the animal kingdom to use in describing this presumptive weather phenomenon, but they certainly present a picture of polar opposites. We think of a lion as being ferocious, bold and courageous, while a lamb is gentle, meek and timid. They just don't fit together -- except in the Bible.

On a couple of occasions Christ is referred to as a lion -- the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:9; Revelation 5:5). However, He is more commonly described as a lamb.

John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus was "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). He is also pictured as "a Lamb as though it had been slain" (Revelation 5:6).

In one sense, these two aspects of Christ can be separated. He came into this world primarily as the sacrificial lamb who gave His life in order to provide for our salvation. And when He comes again, He will do so mainly as the lion who will bring judgment and who will reign forever.

But in another sense, we can see both characteristics of the lion and the lamb embodied in Jesus at the same time. He was the lion who spoke with the authority of God. He acted boldly, such as when He cleansed the temple of the moneychangers. He moved courageously toward His destiny of dying on the cross.

Yet we also see the lamb in Jesus. He was loving and gentle, welcoming the sick, the needy and the little children to come to Him. He meekly allowed Himself to be treated unfairly. He was willing to suffer and sacrifice for the good of others.

Jesus didn't just quietly enter like a lamb at His first coming and will be going out exclusively like a lion at the end of time. He has, and always will be, both the lion and the lamb.

Maybe that says something about how Jesus' followers should be, too. After all, we're supposed to be becoming more and more like Jesus ourselves, aren't we? Some of us have the lion part down, but where's the lamb?

We stand boldly and courageously for God and the truth. We're ready to rip into the enemies of the Lord like a lion attacking its prey. But is the love, compassion and gentleness of the lamb present as well?

Others of us do well in possessing the lamb-like qualities, but we're lacking the lion-like ones.

We love people and seek to meet their needs. We're willing to turn the other cheek and wash the feet of others. We strive to be peacemakers and value unity. But are we willing to bravely confront sin and take a stand for God and for what's right?

In nature, lions and lambs simply don't go together. But in God's order they do.

Jesus was a bold and courageous lion as well as a gentle and self-sacrificing lamb. We need to let Him mold us into that same image too.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.