Why not just leave the dolphins on the beach? Has anyone asked that question? Isn’t it awfully presumptuous for human beings to forcibly throw dolphins into the water?
You may recall that last year hundreds of dolphins were stranded on the beaches of Cape Code. The International Fund for Animal Welfare worked tirelessly to return the dolphins to the ocean. Rescue workers were especially excited to learn that they had rescued one dolphin in her third trimester of pregnancy.
But I wonder if there wasn’t a question which could have saved people a lot of effort. “Isn’t it confining to dolphins to throw them back in the ocean?”
Think of all the things a dolphin cannot enjoy once it is in the ocean. A dolphin in the ocean cannot skateboard. It cannot join a marching band or play golf. It can never climb a mountain. A dolphin in the ocean cannot even go to church! Given all these restrictions, and many more, what right do people have to presume that dolphins should be confined to the ocean?
No one raised the question of whether or not it is right to confine a dolphin to the ocean because it is a ridiculous one. Even a four year old who sees a dolphin gasping for air on the beach knows that it needs to be back in the water. Dolphins were made for the ocean.
But if no one asks why it is not wrong to confine dolphins to water, there are many who do complain that Christianity is confining. Our culture objects, “To call people to follow Christ is like asking them to enter prison? Think of all the things which we would no longer be free to do if we gave our lives to Christ.”
The objection that Christ is too restrictive is raised, yet all the while, people lay gasping on the beaches of life: angry, broken, addicted, grieving, quickly running out of time. As much as dolphins are made for the ocean, we are made for Christ. In Him, we have the eternal ocean of joy and adventure before us. It makes no sense to suffocate on the beach.
Tim Keller explains that disciplines and constraints liberate us when they fit with the reality of our nature and capacities:
A fish, because it absorbs oxygen from water rather than air, is only free if it is restricted and limited to water. If we put it out on grass, its freedom to move and even live is not enhance, but destroyed. The fish dies if we do not honor the reality of its nature. Tim Keller, The Reason for God, page 46.Accept Christ’s invitation to enter into the vast ocean of rest in Him. Let’s immerse ourselves in his greatness for all of eternity.
The reality of our nature is that we need Christ. So Jesus said:
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 ESV)
It beats gasping for air on the beach.
And, yes, I know, dolphins are mammals.
Books by Chris Brauns: