It was a few years ago that my family and I saw a flyer for a traveling circus coming through Carlinville. In big headlines the flyer announced, "Come See Monkeys on Dogs!" Now, I don't really know what is so exciting about seeing small primates riding on the back of mans' best friend, but the headline greatly amused me. So much so, that today my wife and I still refer to that flyer.
"You know what's funny, mom?"
"Monkeys on dogs?"
"No! Stop saying that."
"You know what's cool, dad...and don't say 'monkeys on dogs!'"
A few days ago I was discussing with my wife the need to come up with some new blogs for Christian Retreats Network, and my 11-year old daughter said, "You need to blog about monkeys on dogs!" But after the strange title, what is there really to write about? I mean the original circus flyer was funny enough to become a permanent joke in our household, but we didn't actually bother with going to the show. To be honest, I have no desire to pay money to see a monkey riding a dog. If I had free tickets, I'm not sure I'd want to take the time to go. In fact, if I was already someplace where monkeys were riding on dogs, I'd probably laugh at it for a moment and then move on to other things. It's a fun concept...I don't want to make it a part of my life.
Now that I think about it (and, honestly, this just came to me as I was typing the above paragraph), this is similar to an account in Matthew 19. A rich, young man joins the excitement and pageantry of the crowds to listen to Jesus' teachings. He's so caught up in the revelry that he says to Jesus, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" Jesus quotes a number of the commandments, and the young man proudly announces that he is perfect in all these areas (I can just picture the laughter, friends' hands patting him on the back, shouts of affirmation.). Then the laughter comes to an abrupt halt..."If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (v.21) Scripture tells us that he went away sad, because he had a lot of wealth. A monkey on a dog is a hilarious concept, until it actually costs me something—money, time, effort. I'm just not willing to make that kind of commitment. Following Jesus costs a lot more. Maybe that's why it's easy to fill the youth bus for a trip to Six Flags, but harder to fill the meeting on a Wednesday night.