A Pepper Grinder Post

Ant Traps

It seems that when it becomes fall, the ants around here, who have been content with occasional forays into our house during the summer, become desperate to find food and a home for the winter. Lately, we've seen big influxes of very small ants in our kitchen. It became so bad in our silverware drawers, which were pretty clean, that we emptied both drawers of everything but an ant trap. I'm no expert on ant extermination, but I get the basic idea of how an ant trap works. You fill the trap with something that will be appealing to ants, but which will also kill them. However, you don't want it to kill them too fast. You want the ants to be able to eat the poison, happily carry some back to the nest for the other ants to eat, and leave a nice trail for other ants to follow, so they will also carry more poison back to the nest.

For a few days after placing the traps, I was still seeing plenty of ant activity when I opened the drawers. Today, however, I'm not seeing any ants. If I didn't have such a strong dislike for sharing my house with ants, I'd feel kind of nasty for killing the ants in such a sneaky and deceptive way.

ants around ant trapToday, I read an article by Al Mohler (in the October 2016 issue of the Christian Health Care Newsletter) that talks about changes starting to take place in the United States that are more and more pushing churches and other Christian institutions into a position of either compromising their values when it comes to areas of sexual ethics or suffering the consequences. What struck me is that those hardest hit will be those most reliant on the government. Charitable organizations that get part of their funding from the government will have to make hard decisions. So will Christian colleges where many of their students receive federal student aid. And what about churches who think they could not survive financially if they lost their tax-exempt status?

Nor do I think this applies only to institutions. I am sure there are many Christians who rely anywhere from a little to a lot on some type of government aid. I'm not trying to say it is evil to take any type of government assistance. What I am saying is that the more dependent we are on the government, the harder it will be to resist pressure when beaureaucrats and elected officials tell us that we must tailor our actions and words to fit their idea of what is morally right.

What I think is most important is that we be as unattached as possible from the sweet stuff we find in those black plastic containers with the convenient ant-sized openings on the side. We need to assume that government largesse does have strings attached.

ant trap with no antsThere was a time when the Pharisees were sure they had figured out a way to trap Jesus. They asked him a seemingly simple question: whether or not it was okay to pay taxes to the Roman government. It seemed like a brilliant trap. If Jesus said that Jews should not pay the taxes, the Romans would get him. If he said they should, he would seem to be siding with the hated overlords, and would lose his popularity with the Jewish people. But what did Jesus say? Here's what we read in Mark 12:15-17 (NIV):

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. "Why are you trying to trap me?" he asked. "Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." They brought the coin, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"

"Caesar's," they replied.

Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." And they were amazed at him.

This was more than a clever reply. Embedded in Jesus's answer was a way of looking at things so foreign to the religious leaders of that day, that they were floored by it. Basically I think Jesus was saying, "You shouldn't even care who ends up with your money. What does that matter? What matters is your relationship with God."

I think this is a profoundly important message for us in this day and age. If we are attached to our money and the things government can give and take away, we will be in the government's power. If we are not, we will be free to surrender ourselves wholly to God. We need to be ants who can walk by those free offerings of delicious food without a backward glance.