Valerio and the Natural Man

Last Saturday morning news came from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans that a jaguar had escaped his enclosure and in the process killed six animals and wounded three others. Four alpacas, an emu, and a fox were killed by the jaguar.

Since the initial attack another alpaca has died.

The Audubon Zoo is a wonderful place. Most people in the New Orleans area know it for its catchy tune that says, “they all ask’d for you.”

Many people have hurt for the loss of animals and for the reputation of the zoo.

Of course, a number of people questioned safety and what would happen to Valerio the jaguar. One reporter specifically asked if the jaguar would be euthanized.

Joe Hamilton, vice president and general curator at the zoo, gave a quick and emphatic “no!,” adding that the animal was acting as he would in the wild.

“Valerio was doing what jaguars do,” Hamilton said. “His behavior wasn’t out of the ordinary for that kind of animal. Just a normal jaguar as far as we’re concerned.”

I couldn’t help but be reminded that we all have a “natural  or normal behavior” that creates hurt and pain for ourselves and for others. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Not only do we have to overcome our natural self, but we also are incapable of understanding the things of God on our own.

We desperately need the work of God in our lives. We need to be taught by the Spirit of God.

While a wild jaguar doesn’t need to be changed or transformed, all people need the transforming power of Christ in their lives. We need what only Christ can produce within us.

That process begins when we commit our lives to Christ through faith, but it doesn’t end there. As we seek God, He sanctifies us so that we become are more and more conformed to the image of Christ. We become like Him as we yield to His Spirit and seek the things of the Spirit.

Jaguars don’t need to be changed, but every human needs the work of God in their lives that brings transformation and hope.


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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. — 1 John 3:16 (NIV)