Summary: A pastoral approach to Church’s Pastoral Care using Ants as a metaphor
Stirring the Ant Hill
“24 There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: 25 The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;”
I am one of those guys who think that hobbies are needed in order to keep your mental health and be able to perform in a world with several stress factors. One of my hobbies is related to my background in science. This hobby drives me into reading of science related topics. Sometimes that reading turn into something more than a passive thing and it is transformed in a quest.
That was the case with this booklet about ants. Suddenly, this reading turn into a complete investigation about the subject and all of the sudden I found my self working in this sermon. One of the outstanding conclusion of this investigation turn to be that much of the time we are looking forward to the mystic and the esoteric in search of guidance and revelation from God. We proceed into this search just to discover that our Lord has placed several of the must important and relevant at the sole of our shoes.
First of all it has to be said that entomologist has classified more than 8000 species of ants already; pretty close to the quantity of churches that we have in this Island.
And there is more, fragmentation factor between ants groups is so intense, that there are several ants groups that do not allow its members to interact or to have “share socially” even with ants of their same species or class. Any resemblance with churches like some of those we find in the New Testament is just coincidence. Let us take by example the church in Corinth. Paul tells us when he writes his first letter to this church that this congregation could be seen from the outside as a homogenous compact church, but from the inside, fragmentation was one of its toughest ordeal. (1 Cor 1:11-12) Paul states in this letter that there were at least 5 groups fighting to take control of the church. Those from the group of Chloe, a group that seems to be in charge of the church’s “communications”. Those from the group of Cefas, a group identified by Gordon Fee and Bill Witheringthon as a legalist group; a position that identifies those who believe in the Gospel of “what can’t we do.” Another sector identified is the group of Apollo, defined by some scholars as the rational and intellectual sector of the church. There is a fourth sector, the group of “Paul”, probably a group of liberated believers that went too far in their understanding of Grace and started to behave at the edge or outside of the edge of the church’s doctrine standard. The other sector identified is the group of “Christ”. Some scholars consulted have make me conclude that this group may be composed by “ultra holly, spiritual warfare, worship revivalist, charismatic camp-meeting crusaders” that were too holy to share their time and experience with others.
Paul thesis seems to show us that even when we can’t impede this development, we can find ways to make all these groups interact and work together for the glory of the Almighty and His Church blessings.
Today we can find these groups escorted by several others. Between them, I have to point out a sector that I have classified as “revolving door members”; a floating congregation that can’t be at ease in one single place for more than 18-24 months. One of the reasons that have us gather here, is because all of us are facing the effects of this problems and we are compelled to do something about it.
Let us go back to our friends. These tiny insects have two ways of communication. The first one is common to all insects and it is through pheromones. The second one it is through a derivative of formaldehyde. This substance creates an electromagnetic force and the ants use their antennas to pave and follow the way. That’s the way to explain why ants like to walk on “Indians columns”, one after the other; a way has been established and they are following it. I know that some of us have played with them, trying to erase this path with our fingers or even with a piece of chalk; just to find that after a couple of minutes, ants had found a way to return to their path. It is very curious, but when they were studied, specialist found that ants that get lost, just turn up their antennas to the sun, and using a phenomena called “menotaxis”, they are able to find their way home.
I do not think that we need a big explanation for this. A way have been given to us and we are required to followed it like brethren in Christ Jesus. We have also been blessed with several ways of communication. And even if we feel that we are lost, we can reclaim a Scriptural promise and we can lift up our eyes unto the hills, not to find this help unto the hills, but understanding that our help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. We also find there that our foot will not suffer and shall not be moved: