This was first posted on February 28, 2008.
We have a hummingbird feeder outside our back porch and it's fun to watch them hover and drink the sugar water. It's interesting that they have to come back often to drink because of the amount of energy they expend flapping their wings at such a fast rate.
Another thing I've noticed about hummingbirds is that they are very territorial. An aggressive hummingbird will chase others away from the feeder and will actually sit in a nearby tree watching for an interloper. In fact, a beautiful ruby throated hummingbird that was the first to come to the feeder was driven away completely by a brown one. It seems to me that an amazing amount of energy is wasted defending something that never belonged to them. The feeder is there because of the good graces of my wife and me. So instead of sharing the bounty with the other birds, one bird wastes his energy to defend something that is a gift and not his to keep.
How often are we, the Church, like that. We take the grace that has been freely given us and jealously guard it from those who don't agree with us in everything. We think that God's grace, like the sugar water, was given to us alone. We put God in a little box and try to interpret everything by the limits of that box. We waste an awful lot of energy defending things that either are indefensible, or are not vital. Then, we don't have the time or energy to spend on the real work that Jesus gave us to do - making disciples who follow the Christ.
I'm not saying that Biblical truth doesn't matter or that we should adopt an "I'm okay, you're okay" philosophy. I am saying that we need to take a hard look at what we believe and make sure that we believe it because it matches up with what God says rather than because "it's the way we've always been taught". Is our Christianity Biblical or cultural? Did the faith we hold begin in the 1st century or in the 19th and 20th centuries?
Are we disciples of Jesus? Or, are we hummingbirds?