Since September I have had the privilege of teaching three of my grandchildren science–we have been focusing on “Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day”. To make it clear we are spending time looking at God’s great creation of ocean animals. It has been an amazing time in so many ways. I enjoy simply spending time with them during our studies and watching them become amazed at our God’s ability to make such diverse animals that live under the water!
This past week we looked at cephalopods. The word means “head foot” and there are four groups of these head footed animals. Octopuses, squid, cuttlefish and the nautilus. The surprising thing to me is that each of these creatures are members of what scientists call mollusks! Yes, right along with clams, oysters, muscles and scallops!
I’ve learned that octopuses (yes, that’s the plural form!) have three hearts and blue blood! Squid are a major diet for Asians. Cuttlefish have a little pouch under their eyes that hold two tentacles that spring out and capture their prey. Nautilus are the only ones of this group that have an exoskeleton, and are foragers for their prey. Yes, they too stick out in their tribe! Maybe you feel you are the “diverse” one in your family or church. That may be by His design. Rejoice in it! If you don’t know about these creatures–take time to Google them. Simply watching a live Nautilus swim is fascinating to me! I had only seen and handled and empty shell before–and had often wondered what and how what the animal was like who lived in that shell.
Studying such diverse creatures led me to look at my fellow humans. We are also a diverse group. Our living, working and eating behaviors vary from country to country–but even within each country there is vast cultural differences. Among our Christian “culture” we are diverse, and yet our Heavenly Father loves, cares and helps each of us. As I peered under the sea and began to appreciate the differences between whale species–both the baleen whales and toothed whales; can I learn to develop an appreciation for how others worship our God? Paul encourages us in Romans 14 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do. For God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.
Of course there are some non-negotiables in the Word where we must stand firm. However, as I have learned to appreciate God’s diversity under the sea, I have also learned to appreciate His diversity in His Body. I have begun to see the blessing of those who worship with liturgy. They find a familiar comfort in praying with a predictable form. It is not my “cup of tea”, but I used to not understand why anyone would settle for it. (See my prejudice? I felt they were “settling” for something less than what I found life-giving. I can appreciate those who worship with hymns, there are some powerful words and declarations in them. I can appreciate those who major on the Word and those who Major on “following the Spirit”. As we all seek to serve our Savior with humble determination, He will lead us to the balance we all need. Not one church, denomination or “non-denomination” has it all. As we open our hearts to God’s voice we can appreciate our brothers and sisters in some new ways. We need each other. God said it was OK for the sea creatures to devour each other–not something He condones for us! Love and an ability to trust our Father raise His other children is key.
Philippians 2:3 encourages us with these words. Don’t be selfish: don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others , too.