Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Ant Colony

Jude 1:12 “They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit…”

Jude’s letter to the church is the shortest, but perhaps the most potent and scathing in the entire New Testament. In it, he contends for the faith once delivered to the saints and admonishes the church in regards to certain individuals that have crept into the church unnoticed. Incredibly, his warning is just as relevant today as it was over 1900 years ago.

The Ant and the Grasshopper, is a fable attributed to Aesop, providing a moral lesson about hard work, commitment and preparation. The fable concerns an apathetic grasshopper who has spent the warm months playing and singing his time away while the committed ants worked diligently in the colony to store up food for the coming winter.

A couple of years ago, Karlene gave me a dvd collection of classic Disney animation. Included in that dvd set was the classic tale "the Grasshopper and the Ants" as re-told in 1934 by Disney. In the Bible, Solomon said that we should learn from the way of the ants and get wisdom (Proverbs 6:6). So, I thought, maybe I would learn something from this animated short – and boy, did I ever.

The ants were busy working, harvesting and storing food in their colony during the season of plenty -- preparing for the winter season ahead. The grasshopper, however, had no intention of working, helping or being a part of the colony. He was unconcerned about the colony. He was apathetic towards work, involvement or commitment. Quite unconcerned about the future -- he just wanted to play and have a good time.

Jude was writing to the “colony” of believers – the church. He was warning them about a new danger in, and to, the church: the “grasshopper” Christian (note: In this instance I use the term “Christian” in the most liberal sense). Among many other metaphors, he called them “a spot on your love feast.” They come when they want, they eat what they want and then they leave. They don’t help the colony. They don't serve the colony, because they don't really care about the colony -- they care about themselves. Though they won't serve the colony, they sure want the colony to serve them! They are "takers," not givers, sapping the resources of the colony for their own benefit.

“Grasshopper” Christian's “reject God’s authority” (verse 8). They listen, but they do not hear. They tend not to give, but are always ready to receive for themselves. When they hear something they do not like, they reject the message and/or the messenger. Either through ignorance or insolence, they are not afraid to speak against Pastors, church leaders, or other Christians. When things aren't how THEY want them, they simply fly away, leaving the colony -- with their full-bellies and empty-spirits -- loudly proclaiming to any and all who will listen, “I’ve gotta go somewhere so I can be fed!”

Jude called the grasshopper-types “waterless clouds, fruit-less trees, and wandering stars.” They have the appearance of a Christian, but don't be fooled, it is only an appearance. It is akin the back-lot at Universal Studios. It is a facade. These are persons who “cause divisions, not having the Spirit.” Jude warns the church to beware of them. They are destroyers, not builders. Beware, indeed – for their end is “the blackness of darkness forever” (verse 13).

However, the colony -- God's Church -- continues on. It repairs the breaches to the body. It soothes and bandages the wounds. It picks up the pieces and rebuilds. It knows its mission and continues once again in fulfilling its God-given purpose.

The grasshoppers come and the grasshoppers go, but the colony – just like the one who established it – lives on.

God never intended us to be like the nomadic grasshoppers. Rather, we are called by God to be like the ants in the colony. Living, working and thriving for the good of the church. Giving, serving and sharing for the glory of God and the benefit of others. We are a part of God's divine design -- created for good works in Christ. We have been placed here to help God, help the church, help others and, in doing so, help ourselves.

The wisest man who ever lived said it; "Consider the ant."


Anonymous said...

Pastor Tim, I'm glad to see you are blogging again--I was missing them! I love the story of the ants and the grasshopper. We had to learn a lot of Aesop's fables when we went to school, as early as first grade. They are such good teaching tools. Keep up the blogging--it will help your spirit as well as those who read it! Love you, Mom

Karlene said...

When are you going to write a book??!!