The American chameleon never looks out of place. When he is surrounded by green trees, he turns green; on brown earth, he turns brown. This little lizard also enjoys a great degree of safety. His enemies cannot distinguish him from his environment, no matter what it is.
Most people prefer to blend in too, at least socially. We learn early to watch our hostess to see which fork to use first. We call ahead to find out what everyone else is wearing. The ability to adopt to the social norm is a desired skill and it is certainly more comfortable to be a chameleon than a social misfit who attends barbeques in formal evening wear.
An intellectual chameleon plays a less visible game. Imagine the challenge of sitting with several Einsteins discussing nuclear physics -- with an IQ of 73! Here silence might be the only hope of appearing to think as that crowd thinks! For most of us, it is far easier to fit in with the opposite extreme on the intelligence scale.
Emotional chameleons blend well, and there are more of them. They are the crowd in “crowd psychology,” the adoring fans that follow the idols. They respond to the mood generated by a charismatic leader such as Hitler, or to the emotionally-charged music beating from the stage of a rock concert. Emotions are the easier “color” for chameleons to copy.
What about spiritual chameleons? They keep a much lower profile than the groupies who follow popular bands. They effectively mimic “spiritual” jargon. They chat knowledgeably with theologians. They are able to make themselves comfortable in church fellowship . . . these people are nice so they are nice.
But the spiritual chameleon is also at home with those who reject Christ. He is comfortable talking their language, saying their cuss words, behaving like they do when he is with them because this chameleon wants the best of both worlds. He wants acceptance with no pressure, no accountability. And because pagans and Christians (to our shame) seldom cross each others path, there is little danger of exposure. No one sees anything that doesn’t fit, that doesn’t conform. No one will discover his charade. This chameleon is safe . . . or so he thinks.
Jesus said that His disciples “are in the world but not of the world.” Anyone who genuinely follows Christ is actually an alien, a citizen of a different kingdom. We live here, but we do not fit. We don’t fit because we have been made new - spiritually alive with the life of Christ. We think differently. We talk differently. We act differently. We are nonconformist . . . and we better not act like chameleons.
Outward BEHAVIOR is generally a symptom of what is going on inside, but God is not fooled when the two don’t seem to match. He searches hearts and examines minds. A spiritual chameleon can appear righteous for a while, but God looks past his external “color” and judges his motives and intentions. As Jesus said, these things come out of the heart that defile a person. Eventually, any charade will be discovered. (Matthew 15:17-20)
Instead of blending in, Christ commands his people to be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God without fault -- in a corrupted world among whom we shine like stars” (Philippians 2). Paul said “Satan and his ministers transform themselves in apostles of light” so they will blend in, undetected. But it is God who transforms His people, not so we have power to change our “color” and blend into our environment, but so we will be like Jesus Christ and stand in sharp contrast to the corruption around us.