The Wrong Kind of Bird

When our children were very young, one of my son’s friends told another of their friends that her family was “more Christian” than theirs because they didn’t celebrate Santa Claus at Christmas – only Jesus. She was a child and it was a childish thing to say

But, we do that, don’t we? Compare ourselves to other Christians – our lifestyles, our beliefs, our practices – and rate ourselves on all kinds of scales.

They live extravagantly while others are so needy – how can they? She calls herself a Christian but her politics are very liberal. I thought he was so godly but I saw him order a second beer at the restaurant. Did you know they allow their son to play violent video games? That church is so strict – they are dangerously legalistic. I heard that church allows women to preach. He seems like a great Christian but he never joins in when we discuss theology. She knows her Bible but I’ve never seen her volunteer for any committees or show up at workday at church.

Who is the greatest? We still argue about it.

Like the disciples in Mark 9:33-37: “They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.”

I love this passage of scripture because it gives me hope. I love knowing that the disciples actually argued about who was the greatest. Knowing this helps me keep the faith when I hear modern disciples subtly doing the same thing.

Some of us are so good at it that it sounds like we’re sharing spiritual concerns for other individuals or denominations but really we’re still just arguing about who is the greatest – trying to sound like grown-ups when we say “my church is more Christian than your church.”

This is something I really wrestle with because I believe in having convictions. I believe in standing firm on scriptural principles. I believe in study, debate and the original Greek. I think it’s important for every Christian to know what they believe and why they believe it.

But I don’t think I’m going to arrive in heaven and hear Jesus say to me “Wow, Lori. You get to go stand over there with the very few other people who managed to figure out exactly the right theology while I spend a little time straightening out the millions of others who missed the boat on some issues.”

Maybe that’s why there’s silence in heaven for about a half hour in Revelation 8. Maybe as we stand as a great multitude before the throne, we hear God ask, “What was it you were all arguing about on the road?” And we keep quiet because we know that on the way we argued about who was the greatest.

There are many, many issues on which the Bible is crystal clear. I am working really hard to make those things part of my life but I miss the mark more days than I hit it.

There are some areas of scripture that are debatable. I know what I believe on those things and I’ll explain why if you ask but most days I won’t pick a fight with you over it.

There’s work to be done. There’s a battle raging and it’s going to get worse. When the Israelites, led by Gideon, came against the Midianites in Judges Chapter 7, the Lord instructed them to strike at night, to light torches, break empty jars and sound their trumpets.

This threw the Midianite soldiers into confusion. “When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.”

I don’t want to be THAT army. I’ve no desire to drive a sword through the soldier standing beside me in battle – especially one who is my brother or sister. There are few enough of us as it is.

There’s a song I love by Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame) called Peace in the Valley. You can hear it here http://popup.lala.com/popup/2810527646793101331.

 In it he says this:

“There’s a pigeon of peace in my backyard
He’s the wrong kind of bird but he tries so hard
One day I told him he should have been a dove
He cocked his head and looked at me with love and he sang

Peace in the Valley, he sang
Peace on the mountain too
before you tell a man he’s got splinter in his eye
You better pull the log out of you.”

I feel like that a lot – the wrong kind of bird trying so hard. I guess I feel for the other pigeons out there, too. Are you a pigeon of peace? Do you know one?

Jesus tells the disciples that if anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all. That’s not a glamour shot, that’s for sure.

Who is the greatest among us? You’ll know him because he’ll be washing your feet.

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7 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Felicia Bridges says:

    Love it! Very well said!

  2. Thank you for coming by, Felicia. God bless.

  3. Cheri says:

    Lori,

    This post is incredible. I believe it qualifies as my favorite… at least for this week! Everything you write makes me think and blesses my spirit. I am definitely the wrong kind of bird, and I’m trying so hard! Sadly, I can also be the dove throwing cold water on the pigeon.

    I love your humility and your honest transparency!

    Thank you!

    Cheri

  4. Well, “birds of a feather”, Cheri! Thank you for your faithful encouragement!

  5. Will says:

    Lori,

    I’ve always had the impression that at the end of the day, or “life”, as it were, it won’t make much of a difference which path you chose as long as you followed the basic good values set down in the Bible. You mention this – some issues are simply crystal clear and the rest, well, we do our best. It’s always been bizarre to me that it should turn into some sort of competition – I think we all harbor a little jealousy about what another person does well and perhaps that spawns this sort of talk, but at the end of the day, as long as we’re all living good lives, I think energy is better spent elsewhere.

    I echo Cheri – this is an awesome post.

    Thanks! 🙂

  6. Thanks, Will. The important non-debatable, central truth to take from the Bible is that the only way, at the end of the day, to God is through Jesus – He is THE Way, THE Truth and The Life. Living a life that follows Jesus can look really different from other lives that follow Jesus but Jesus is the one central absolute that can’t be dismissed or ignored. Thank you for taking time to read and to comment. You always have something deep and intelligent to add to the discussion. Be well.

  7. Living Water says:

    I’m with you in standing firm on scriptural principles and studying the Bible.

    One principle that exemplifies the meaning of being last to be first in servanthood to all can be found in the verse:

    Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (Philippians 2:3 NAS)

    If we regard others as more important than ourselves, we need not compare who is better!