For preachers, good illustrations are like nuggets of gold. They help paint vivid pictures for a point that can be easily remembered. Though listeners may not remember the points in a sermon, they easily remember the illustrations that make the points. A few weeks ago I was speaking on God’s ideal for the church found in the book of Acts and noted that one of those ideals was seen in a devotion to the fellowship and how the word “fellowship” always denoted some kind of sharing, either with someone or in something someone else is experiencing. Consider the following illustration found in nature that aptly describes what fellowship is and isn’t.
When we go to the beach we can’t help but see seagulls flying. Alone, a seagull flies with certain majesty, thrusting its wings with powerful strokes and making effortless circles as it searches for food. But in a flock, the seagull is a different bird. Its majesty disappears into in-fighting and cruelty. They are so fiercely competitive and jealous that the concept of sharing and manners do not exist. If you tie a ribbon around the leg of one gull, making it stand out from the rest, the others in the flock will attack it furiously and in many cases kill it. Contrast that image with wild geese that fly from one destination to another. They utilize a V-formation while flying. Because of wind resistance, the point position is the most difficult, so the geese rotate that position every few minutes. The easiest flight is experienced in the two rear sections of the formation, so the strongest geese permit the young, weak, and older birds to occupy those positions. Bird specialists aren’t sure, but suppose the constant honking in flight is to encourage the weaker geese.
And so it is with church fellowship. No one person can do all the work alone – it takes a team effort. No one is to be self-centered and selfish, but accepting and sharing. No one is to be left behind – the weak, the young, and the elderly are to be protected and encouraged to continue as the fellowship reaches its goal for Christ and His Kingdom. The early church fellowship was described as being one in heart and mind (Acts 4:32). The writer of Hebrews instructed believers to consider how they might spur one another on toward love and good deeds, to not give up meeting together as some had gotten in the habit of doing, and to encourage one another (10:24-25).
May we take to heart a lesson from nature as well as instruction from scripture.
To His Glory,