|Vol. 13 No. 1 January 2011||
“Go to the ant …consider her ways and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6). The Bible talks about a number of animals this way, but have you ever actually done it? Have you ever truly considered the ant so that you could be wise? Maybe we are too lifted in our pride or bigness. Maybe we think we just don’t have the time. Maybe we see those ants as nothing more than a threat that need to be exterminated. God, however, said they were not only wise, but that you and I could learn from them.
To be completely honest, I had never really given ants much thought to the point where I would observe them. I never really noticed them and their exceptional nature, except for those little red ones that make mounds in my front yard and sting me when I walk by them. I notice how exceptionally adept they are at getting on me if I so much as even dare to brush against their bothersome burrow for but a fraction of a second. How did they do it? I mean, do they have a large force of ready and waiting mobilized, armored, teeth-sharpened Special Forces ants prepared to face certain death to protect the queen?
Just a short while ago, however, I had the opportunity, because my wife pointed it out, to observe an amazing thing among the ants (not fire ones – those in northern states who don’t know fire ants, pray now and thank God you don’t). We were outside playing a game of basketball on the driveway when my wife noticed a trail of ants leading up to our front porch, which led to one of the support columns for the awning over our front porch, which led to the roof. All in all, the line of ants stretched, it seemed, for about 25 observable feet, from the roof to the lawn. What were they doing? Collecting food! In this line there were several ants carrying something white that looked like a piece of cottage cheese about the size of a split pea. It was big for an ant, and the fact that it took no less than five of them to move it, testified to that fact.
Now, we played for about two hours and in those two hours these little creatures moved that large piece of food almost the entire distance of 25 feet to the awaiting hungry that lived somewhere on my roof. This was amazing enough, but the “how” of it all is what fascinated us. By the time we finished our game, they were making their way up the final foot of the post supporting our front porch. We were done and heading in, but decided to watch. As we did so, we noticed a couple of things. First, the line was actually two lines; some were going out and some were coming back. Second, as the ants would pass by the ones with the large piece of food, they would rotate in and out carrying the burden. As one came, without hesitation one left and moved off down the line, until all the ants had been replaced. Then, it would start over. It was amazing. What teamwork! What a great understanding of harmony, unity and service. No one ant or even one group of ants carried the burden. They all carried it!
It reminded me of Paul’s admonition to, “Bear ye one another’s burdens.” Spiritually, it is important for us, like the ants, to be part of a community. Now, we call it the “church,” and in such, we find ourselves being knit together with other men and women to not only have relationships, but do the work of Christians, encouraging and helping one another.
Now, maybe your Christian journey is lacking or your life has troubles, because you’re trying to be the “lone ant.” Maybe, just maybe you are spiritually starving because you have no help or support from other Christians! In this day, realize that committing to Christ means committing to His community! Love Him, but love His people as well. In reality, you can’t have one without the other.
Jeff A. Jenkins
A fine young boy who comes to church with his grandparents recently told them that when he goes to another church he likes the building, and when he comes to this church, he likes the people! This wonderful observation by this fine young man should serve as a reminder to all of us about what really matters most. It caused me to think about why people choose to attend a church.
Sometimes people go to church because of the programs/ministries offered by the church. In my mind, this seems to be the deciding factor for most people in our day. They like the youth program, children’s program, college program, singles program, program for young families, education programs, sports programs, etc. Of course this will vary depending on the life stage in which one finds himself at the time.
Sometimes people choose a church because of the number of people in their age group. They are looking for people who are at or near their place in life. Sometimes people choose a church based on the opportunities to be involved or the ability to not be involved. They want to participate in the worship services and other programs. Some choose a church based on the size of the church. Through the years, people have said that they want to be a part of a smaller church because they can be more involved or because it provides more of a family atmosphere. We have also heard from some through the years that they want to be a part of a larger church because there are more programs from which they can choose. Some choose a church based on the facilities or the building.
Some people choose a church because of the preaching. Some people like a “polished” preacher who is an excellent speaker. Others like a preacher who is hard-nosed, no-nonsense, you know – one who tells it like it is. According to a Barna Research survey from a few years back, here are the top nine reasons that people choose a church:
This survey is very revealing, and it tells us a lot about what people are looking for in a church. Of course, learning that people attend a church because they “like the preacher” is number eight on the list stings a little. I’m not sure what all of this means, but it does remind us that people think deeply about the kind of church they will attend. It should cause us to pause and think about how we reach out to those who visit our services.
I am glad to know that my young friend likes the church here because of the people. I pray that in all of our churches that the people will be friendly, warm and welcoming. If we act as if we are glad to be present and that we love one another, it will go a long way in helping people decide to worship with us.