Monday, October 1, 2007

Zoo Theology

A parable I once read about a school for animals goes like this:

A duck, a rabbit, a squirrel and an eagle who were in this school were all forced to take the same curriculum of running, swimming, climbing and flying.

The duck, an excellent natural swimmer, injured his feet while trying to learn to run, which caused him to become only average in the other subjects -- even in his specialty, swimming.

The rabbit started out as a great runner, but all his make-up work in swimming wore him out, so he developed a twitch in his leg muscles that slowed him down to only average speed in running.

The squirrel, the best climber, was frustrated in flying class. He, too, suffered from overexertion, and eventually earned only mediocre grades in his other subjects, including climbing.

The eagle was able to beat all the others in climbing class in getting to the top of the trees by using his own unique method. But when he was forced to use his wings to climb like the rest of the animals, some of his feathers were torn out, severely hampering his ability to fly.

Eventually, the demands of the same curriculum diminished each of the animal’s special abilities, forcing them to do what they weren’t supposed to do, and reducing them to the same level of mediocrity. No one excelled at anything.

Like these animals in the parable, we in the Church have suffered the same frustration, fatigue and mediocrity -- and for the same reason: We haven’t recognized the truth that each person not only has special gifts, but also has specific limitations which should be observed. No matter how often we quote Paul’s words about Christ’s body having many members with varying functions, it seems we only mouth the metaphor without learning the lesson. Not only do we keep failing to recognize the unique abilities God gives to each person He calls; we also fail to see that along with those unique gifts each of us also has a unique set of limitations that we must recognize in ourselves and each other.


Bob Mumford Back over the Barbwire!

From Plumbline, Vol 4, No. 5

Keyed in by Elvon

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