The cobra effect

The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NIV)


Back in the 1800’s, the city of Delhi, in India, had a troublesome problem with the poisonous snake known as the cobra. The problem was that the colonial authorities thought that there were too many of them. And so the government announced what seemed to be a wise solution to the problem. It announced that there would be a bounty paid for each dead cobra that someone brought in. And so at first it looked as though the solution was a truly wise one, as people began to bring in dead cobras by the pile.

Over time, however, the authorities made a discovery. They discovered that people had actually begun to breed cobras in order to bring them in for the money. When that happened, the government decided to discontinue the program. When the bounty program stopped, however, people simply released the now-worthless snakes, thus making the cobra population larger than ever. This came to be known as “The Cobra Effect.” The Cobra Effect describes any wise-sounding solution that, in reality, makes matters worse.

Deep within me there is the strong assumption that I am the solution to my problems. Deep within me there is the strong assumption that if I can only get the right information, if I can only discover the right tools or the right method, then I can create for myself a life that has meaning, a life that has purpose, a life that fills the void in my soul.


Sooner or later, however, the Cobra Effect will kick in. Sooner or later, looking to myself for the solution will only make matters worse.

That’s why the answer is Jesus. Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from the guilt of our repeated failures. Only the perfect life of Christ can cover us in the blanket of his holiness. Only his Spirit can empower us to see clearly by faith in Christ—to see that the real Solution lies outside of ourselves.

In Christ, therefore, the Cobra Effect comes to an end. In Christ, real life begins.

Lord Jesus, by the power of your gospel send me a rich measure of your Spirit. Empower me to see that my solution is you. Amen.

About Living Hope Church

We are a WELS Lutheran Church located in Omaha, Nebraska, in the Millard area. We invite you to learn with us about Jesus Christ, the son of God, our Savior. We provide child care and preschool education through Our Precious Lambs.
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