Over the years, Miss Sue and I have spent many wonderful days looking out across the waters of Mobile Bay. Close friends, the Eldridges, have a lovely beach house at water’s edge on Dauphin Island, Alabama. They have graciously invited us to come whenever we can and rest from our labor and enjoy the beauty of Dauphin Island.
The view from the back deck is a bird watcher’s paradise. About a hundred yards out is a small marshy island covered with salt grass and surrounded by shallow water. It is like a magnet that draws the birds. Recently, I watched an incredible variety of water birds come and go including: Oystercatchers, Sandpipers, Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Green Herons, Loons, Pelicans, Skimmers, an Osprey, and an assortment of gulls and terns.
In my ‘former life’, I taught High School Biology. Although it has been nearly 50 years ago, I still remember a few things. Patterns run throughout nature and across species. The great diversity of water birds on Dauphin all feeding in the same area reflects one such pattern. Their body shapes, length of legs, types of beaks, and a myriad of other adaptations make each species uniquely suited for a specific niche in their environment. They feed and forage together, not competing but co-existing by seeking different food sources. Together they are part of a healthy eco-system.
The Apostle Paul speaks of such a pattern in humankind. It seems to me it reflects the common Creator of all forms of life. The Church is the body of Christ. Hear Paul’s explanation of such a pattern in I Corinthians 12:14-20 (NCV): “The human body has many parts. The foot might say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not part of the body.’ But saying this would not stop the foot from being a part of the body. The ear might say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not part of the body’. But saying this would not stop the ear from being a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, it would not be able to hear. If the whole body were an ear, it would not be able to smell. If each part of the body were the same part, there would be no body. But truly God put all the parts, each one of them in the body as He wanted them”. Like the variety of birds all feeding in the same place, but each with its unique niche, so the church has great diversity among its members, yet each fills a distinct place. Each member is necessary to the health of the church.
Another pattern from my biology teaching days comes to mind. If one of the small and less conspicuous birds from the eco-system disappears, the whole community is threatened. Paul reports this same pattern in the church and says, “Those parts of the body that seem to be the weaker are really necessary…God wanted the different parts to care the same for each other. If one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share the honor” (I Corinthians 12:22, 25-26).
Could it be that part of the reason why the church of today seems to be struggling so much is due to the fact many of us are not where we are supposed to be? Are you filling your God appointed unique niche in the Body of Christ?
~ Brother Roy