My pastor's chickens made another appearance in his sermon, and it got me thinking...
|Yesterday, our pastor, Chris, lead us in a talk about not dwelling on past testimony, but reaching forward for ever-new ones. As an illustration, he told how feeding his chickens that morning had prompted some thoughts; that although he throws down fresh corn, the birds often scratch and peck at old seed. Seed that is stale and become littered with filth. He spoke on how the chickens were so focused on the ground before them, they never looked at the sky above.
He went on to make comparisons between us as the chickens, God’s blessings the corn, and the farmer Jesus.*
All of which I found interesting; except right at the start of the talk he’d also mentioned the pheasants that come into his garden** and I found myself fixating on the analogues there (I did listen to the rest of his talk. Honest.).
If the chickens in their coop are the church, then the wild pheasants must surely be the unsaved. Certainly to the untrained eye, it looks as though the pheasants have the better deal - they are not bound by cages and fences (and for that, read Laws, God-assigned duties and responsibilities, and even the four walls of our own churches). But neither do they have the protection and safety provided by the run [church]. And let’s not be shy about it; it is a big, scary, dangerous world out there (how often does the Bible compare false prophets, cheats, murderers, etc to wolves, snakes, and the like?).
Nor do they have a caring hand to feed them and pull them from harm’s way (I doubt very much if Chris’ chickens have ever wondered into the road, but it’s a daily hazard for the ones that live on the farm opposite me - I'm sure to run one over eventually ).
Now this is where my analogue breaks down a little, so please be patient.
If the chickens remain permanently tucked away in their cosy little coop, not only (like Chris alluded to with the stale seed) do they get bogged down in their own mess and not focus on God’s fresh seed, but the seed also remains within the coop.
See? I told you it doesn't hold quite so well here - God is perfectly capable and willing to throw seed to the wild birds; but if the chickens leave the coop and spread throughout the field/farm/garden, then the farmer has no choice but to throw the seed after them. Fresh seed on fresh ground*** and nothing blocking the seed from the pheasants.
The pheasants will eagerly gobble up the seed [the Word] and, not only will they come back for more, pretty soon others will follow suit. The farmer will throw down more and more seed as more and more birds come to be fed.
So, in the same way ‘if you want to walk on water, get out of the boat,’ ‘if you want to feed the pheasants, get out of the coop.’ Let’s embrace the world beyond the walls of our churches and go out into the big, scary, and still dangerous, world - and let’s show the wild birds how much corn God has to offer.
* * *
*Chris is notorious for blurting out random comments during his sermons and for the most appalling jokes, but I don’t think he really meant to set himself up as the Messiah.
**He went off on a quick the-grass-is-always-greener tangent; how the pheasants must think the chickens have it made, and the chickens must envy the game birds’ freedom.
***Matt 13v1-8, the parable of the sower.
Oh, and as an aside, yes I know the cover picture is of ducklings. I couldn't find chickens or pheasants. But that's okay, God would feed them too.