Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Little Bird: A Parable

"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you sent Me."
-Jesus; Jn. 17:20-21

There is a great problem in some churches today. It does not look large at first, because we often only see the symptoms of it. It does not make itself easily known and it does not stand in the spotlight saying "Look at me! Look at me!" It is much more content to dwell just below the surface, affecting decisions from the shadows.

It does not exist always in all churches, but it does crop up now and then, even with people who love Christ and how He has saved us, and who love the church dearly. It happens because we are human, and we make mistakes, just like everybody else.

The problem is a lack of erring on the side of love, and its best friend is Pride.

The word 'err' means to blunder, make a mistake, or be wrong about something. In today's world I most hear it used to describe a mistake that was made unintentionally but with good intentions.

We err, for example, when we do our best to make a choice for everyone's benefit but make the wrong choice. We err when we stop to help an animal that looks like it needs help and it scratches us and runs off instead. We err when we think we should reject people because they do not agree with exactly what we think.

These can all be done with the best of intentions: trying to help people be the best they can be, trying to heal, trying to protect ourselves or others. These are all noble goals, but if they are not done from a position of love, we will end up only shooting ourselves in the foot. Because without love, without coming from a position and stance of love, we can end up making the wrong decision the wrong way, or even the right decision the wrong way.

And hurt ourselves and others in the process.

Disclaimer: The following is a parable. No, it is not an analogy to anything happening in my life, for those who will inevitably ask. :-)

Let's say I have a small bird I found as a baby. I took it in, nurtured it, helped it grow, and cared about it. Then I did something the bird did not like, which hurt it, and it pecked me and flew away, which hurt me. The bird had the right to leave - it felt it could not trust me. I have a right to be upset - the bird left me when I was only trying to care for it.

But let's say that, down the line, that little bird has baby birds. It remembers the care and love I showed it as a baby, so it brings the baby birds to me so that I can help them grow, too. I now have a choice to make.

I can accept the bird's desire for me to be involved in the life of its baby birds, or I can close the windows and doors, and tell the bird it needs to take care of its own.

Only one of those choices is a choice made out of love.

If I err on the side of caution, and do not let the little bird in, there is one scenario that will occur:
1) The little bird will know it is unwelcome, will leave, and will not come back.

If I err on the side of love there are three likely scenarios:
1) I let the bird in and it gets angry and pecks me.

2) It may stay a little while before leaving, and visit me from time to time and be my friend after it leaves.

3) The little bird may realize that I do still love and care about it and come back to live with me.

The first might happen, but the second two will only happen if I accept that little bird back into my home, and allow it to be a part of my life again. Either of the last two situations is preferable to the bird feeling unwelcome in my home and leaving forever. And even if I do get pecked and it leaves again, at least I will know that it was the bird, and not me, that decided to end the relationship.

I say all this to say the following:
Do not allow your pride to get in the way of healing.

It is so much easier said than done.

The problem with the first choice in the bird scenario is that I am allowing my pride to make the decision for me. Since I am important, I should not have to risk getting pecked or hurt. I know best. Even if my family would like to see the little bird again, I am not going to risk them getting pecked. The bird is out. 

To do this is to err on the side of pride under the guise of caution. We must be very sure of what we are doing and the motivation behind the decisions we make about our relationships with others, especially with those in the body of Christ.

Instead, if we err, we should err on love. It is only when we err on the side of love that we will have a chance for unity in the body.

And unity in the body is what Christ prayed for just before He was betrayed and arrested in the garden. Christ wants His people to be united. He wants them to be united so that "the world may believe that You sent Me."

This is not a small thing. It is important. It is vital.

So err on the side of love, especially with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

So that the world may know.