Saturday, March 27, 2010
The Lone Wolf...
I'm a nature freak and science geek. Guess I have been all of my life. I love being outside. I love going creek stomping, or log rolling just to see what I can find. I did that this week in my own yard and came up with a juvenile garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis for us science geeks). After I played with it for a while, I put it back under the log. That's just the way I am. So, while everyone else is watching this spectacle known as March Madness, I'm watching nature shows or outside watching how the Robins (Turdus migratorius, again for the science geeks) cocks her head to one side to listen for invertebrates underground, or observing how the crabapple (Malus coronaria) blossom opens up all by itself.
When I read this morning's devos, another image from nature came to mind...the lone wolf. Now, I have never personally spent any time around wolves but do have a college friend who is working with them in Montana, at least the last I heard (Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's job). But the lone wolf is interesting. Something will happen in the pack, and it will strike out on its own. Maybe it was an alpha male that finally got too old or sick to lead the pack. Maybe it was an omega female that, because of her low social status in the pack, just wasn't getting enough to eat. Maybe it was getting picked on, who knows. But for whatever reason, it decided that life outside the pack would be better than life within the pack, so it goes out on its own.
Sometimes that happens, even among humans. Sometimes it happens in families. Sometimes it happens in churches. This morning, Paul reminded us that life outside the pack is no good. I've said before that I've been at this for 11 years now. In 11 years, because of the way our system is set up, I have served 9 churches. Sometimes one at a time, sometimes 3 at a time. But in every one of the 9 but two, I have watched lone wolves. I said earlier that I had never spent any time around lone wolves before, but that's not altogether true. I have never spent any time around lone wolves (Canis lupus, just for our science geek buddies), but I have spent much time around other types of lone wolves (Doit myselficus, also known as, Dontneed anyonesicus, or the most fierce type of lone wolf, Itsallabout whatiwanticus).
I have watched as these types of lone wolves have practically destroyed the pack mentality. The other members of the pack are afraid of Itsallabout whatiwanticus, so they stand down when this lone wolf begins to growl. A little teeth bearing, a vicious snarl, and an eery stare is all it takes for Itsallabout whatiwanticus to pursuade the pack to follow her, or him, regardless of the impact it will have for future generations in the pack.
I'm sorry, but while I may feel pity for lone Canis lupis, I have none for Itsallabout whatiwanticus. In fact, I have absolutely zero patience for lone wolves, at least of the genus mentioned before. Paul spends a fair amount of ink talking about the importance of remembering that we are all part of one whole. He reminds us that there is no part of the body that is more important than any other, and that we cannot be what we were created to be unless we recognize that. It has been my observations over the years, though, that the lone wolf in a church has not heard that yet. Or if they have heard it, doesn't care, or just simply doesn't realize the negative impact they are having on the pack.
Here is what he says in 1st Corinthians 12: "But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that it's parts should have equal concern for each other." Now, I know that only in the ideal situation will that happen. There will always be a lone wolf somewhere in the church. There will always be someone, who intentionally or not, holds more sway over the members of the pack out of fear. They are afraid to say anything because the lone wolf will start yelling, or get mad and pout, or leave altogether. And my friends, that is not how it's supposed to be.
We are a body. Yeah, sure, Paul gives a list of positions within that body as he closes out chapter 12, but I don't think he is listing them in order of importance. Maybe he is and I missed it, I don't know. What I'm saying is this...pack mentality does not mean we always have to agree and play nice all the time, that would just make us fakes and we know how I feel about fakes. But lone wolf mentality in a pack setting does not always work either. There are situations, certainly, where someone has to be the first to make a stand, but that's different. The good of the pack is still the primary goal. When our wants become more important than the pack's needs, that is when we morph into Itsallabout whatiwanticus. And that is no good.
Paul ends this little rant, as I do, with an intro into chapter 13. This one line really doesn't belong with chapter 12. It's actually a segue into the ideal pack situation, and here is what he says: "And now I will show you the most excellent way."
And PS, I don't own any of the pictures I upload on here. I have found them all on the internet.