Have you ever seen geese flying south in the fall or coming back in the spring and thought about the “V” pattern they make? They do that to help overcome wind resistance. Each bird instinctively takes its turn at the front of the “V” until they become tired and move to the back. On occasion, though, we see a bird strike out on its own. Those birds do not last long in that condition. Either they rejoin the group or they fall behind.
Birds can be a bit like the church, can’t they? Observe.
1) We are all meant to be flying together in the same direction. Sometimes those who are flying in formation need to relieve those at point, but it is always a group effort. Paul regularly praised those who helped in the work: “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:4-5).
2) The world of animals can seem cruel. While we are different from animals, the apostle Paul shared some tough thoughts in 2 Thessalonians 3:6. “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.” In v10, Paul writes, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
3) Striking out on our own isn’t part of the plan for geese or for Christians. Often, Christians try to “go it alone” or “take a break” from the congregation. Thankfully, many return to the “V,” but more often they get too tired flying alone and fall behind. In v15, Paul writes, “Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.” We must pray that individuals who try to face the path alone will see error in those ways and “return to the flock.” We welcome their return as our family in Christ.
Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn’t be taking notes from the geese. Is your flight path pulling you outside of His plan? Where are you in your flight toward heaven today? If you need to take a breather, ask your brothers and sisters to take lead for a bit. If you in the back of the “V” happily gliding under the work of others, step up and help in the work. If you are facing the challenges of flight on your own, come back into the fold. The church is pleasing to God when we are all flying in the same direction – toward Him, together.