I don’t recall a worship song with the word cunning in it. “Thou Art Cunning,” or “Cunning, Cunning, Cunning.” Do we interpret his actions in our lives as perhaps part of some cunning plan? That delayed answer to prayer—is there something brilliant about the timing? Would it help us to rest if we thought so? When he answers our prayers with “No,” do we see him sparing us some unseen danger? And when it comes to our own “imitation of Christ,” do we approach our days wondering, How would Jesus have me be snakelike today? Doesn’t it sound a little unchristian?
We don’t appreciate Jesus’ cunning because we insist on clinging to our naive view of the world. We just want life to be easy; we just want life to be good. We don’t want to deal with evil, so we pretend we don’t have to. We don’t want to navigate sin either. We prefer our coffeehouse chitchat, our Twitter-level engagement. We play at church. It’s as though we think our mission and our context is something other than what it was for Jesus. Even though he said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).