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John 21:17

The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."

November 22, 2000

The Nature of the Beast

The other night our two cats came running into my bedroom at 2 AM. Usually I just roll over and go back to sleep. But this time, one of the cats was growling loudly—and he wouldn't stop. He kept it up for about 5 minutes.

Finally, I groggily turned on the light to see what his problem was, and to kick him out of the room so I could go back to sleep.

What I saw gave me pause. He was crouching at the foot of the bed with a mouse clamped in his mouth, growling to keep the other cat away.

Well, yuk. He wasn't about to leave. I got out of bed. I walked over to the cat and—unfortunately—he opened his mouth. The mouse dropped to the floor, made a pathetic "eek" sound and tried to make a run for it.

But he was too slow for the cat, who pounced, grabbed the mouse again, and resumed growling. The mouse got away a second time and both cats stalked it around the house. I came home from work the next day and discovered they had finally killed the exhausted thing.

This gave me a new perspective on cats. I'd always seen them as furry, friendly animals who sat on your lap and liked to be petted. They slept a lot and meowed to be fed, and didn't do much else.

But that's not really what cats are all about. You put a mouse or a snake or a bird or any other small animal in front of a cat, and instinct kicks in. They forget all that pleasant stuff and become, as my husband puts it, "killing machines."

That's what cats are built for. They're quick, they're muscular, they've got incredibly strong legs, vicious claws and powerful jaws. It's the nature of the beast. It's always there, lurking under the surface.

For years, if you would have asked me about human nature, I would have said that people are basically good deep down inside, and that their sins were just aberrations.

I always thought of myself as a basically good person. A person who slipped up occasionally, but whose heart was in the right place.

But as I investigated Jesus seriously and learned about God through reading the Bible and prayer and interacting with other Christians, I came to see that my understanding was wrong. Sin is the nature of the beast.

I looked at my own motivations and thoughts and actions, and realized they were shot through with sin. And I realized there was no way I could repair that damage with God by being a "better person."

The only way to get right was to admit that I was deep down inside, a sinner, and to accept Jesus' sacrifice on the cross as my atonement.

What a humbling thing it is to realize that what I consider my "righteousness" is no better than filthy rags in God's sight (Isaiah 64:6), and that only by accepting that God intervened himself through Christ am I able to approach him.

What an amazing God we have that he would do this for us.


Isaiah 6:1-8; Zechariah 3:1-9;
Romans 3:10-28