I recently came across a quote from Billy Graham which made me chuckle. (Well, actually I can’t chuckle, but I can do a good snigger or a cackle instead). Billy Graham said this:
“A real Christian is someone who can lend his pet parrot to the village gossip for a week.” (Billy Graham: [1918-2018]: Prominent American evangelist)
And that’s so very true. Because we parrots simply can’t keep a secret. If we hear something, we have to repeat it, irrespective of whether it is good or bad. And so you could say that we’re rather like a mirror to our owners’ souls.
Many years ago, my owner met a 103-year-old Macaw which had purportedly belonged to Winston Churchill. And sure enough, it came out with a whole string of swear words, and muttered all kinds of bad things about the Germans.
Now of course, none of us are perfect. We’ve all got certain things about us that we would rather keep hidden from public view. In the Springtime, when my hormones are flowing, I’ve been known to become a bit nippy. And while my owner doesn’t normally use rude words or make effigies of people that annoy him, he’s still very aware of his inner faults. And that can create an inner tension, because once we become a practicing Christian, the rest of the world places us on a pedestal and expects us to become a model of good behaviour. Expectations of us soar rather like a parrot on the wing...
“A Christian is a keyhole through which other folk see God.”
(Robert E. Gibson:[Dates unknown]: Motivational Christian writer)
“You are the only Bible some unbelievers will ever read.”
(John MacArthur: [1939-Present]: American Pastor, author and radio presenter)
And if we sometimes get something wrong or go off the rails, then there are always folk lining up to condemn us. Fortunately, that’s not how God operates; He knows that we all fail to behave like model Christians at one time or another, and that’s why the Bible places such a big emphasis on ‘forgiveness.’
So, when the rest of the world is wanting to put us on trial, we can always turn to God in prayer, to make right what is wrong and to seek His forgiveness. And this is a lesson that Billy Graham learnt…
“The Christian life is not a constant high. I have moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me’, or ‘help me!’” (Billy Graham: [1918-2018]: Prominent American evangelist)
If we were all a little less hypocritical and quick to condemn, and if we could only learn to forgive one another as we ourselves would like to be forgiven, then none of us would feel the need to hide away our weaknesses, faults or failings. Our world would be so very different from how it is. So I reckon that all humans should have a pet parrot, and lend them around a bit to get everything out in the open. We parrots would have a ball, and you humans would learn about how to forgive!
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
(C.S. Lewis: [1898-1963]: Northern Irish theologian and prominent Christian author who held academic posts at Oxford and Cambridge universities)
“Then Peter came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”