a lesson from the grackle


I have come to love a species in West Texas that I now know many despise. It has left it’s mark on many a car and lawn cushion across the Permian Basin. In fact, it is even sometimes known as the Devil Bird. I am speaking of course of the Great Tailed Grackle. And I guess I need to provide a caveat to my earlier statement. I don’t love their inordinate amount of fecal droppings in Odessa parking lots. I don’t love that they sometimes buzz heads around fast food stores and shopping centers. I don’t even really like their beady yellow eyes that seem to stare right into your soul. But I do love to watch them sing. The males in particular have this way about them. They arch their back, point their heads toward the heavens and sing a beautiful song with complete abandon. Now some may say that it’s not beautiful but rather weird. But it’s so unique and different that there is beauty to be found in it. Especially if we truly believe that birds are a part of the song of creation towards their Creator.

Like a lot of the things I observe in and around nature, I think there is a lesson to be learned from the grackle, especially for those of us who profess Christ. Many people are put off by the grackle and it’s guano spreading habits. But likewise sometimes Christians are most ill represented by our poo-pooing of culture around us. Here’s an exercise. Go to Google or any other search engine that has an auto-fill feature and type in the words “Why are Christians”. The auto-fill portion that follows will help you to see that our grackle-like tendencies aren’t helping the cause of Christ. One of the other criticisms of the grackles are their tendency to be annoying in their mob-like roosting fashion. And let’s be honest, sometimes when we as Christians jump on certain band-wagons in mass we become ineffective and a bit annoying.

But their is beauty still to be found in the grackle and even in us. The grackle’s song can be lovely despite it’s shortcomings because of the nature with which he praises God. Likewise we in Christ are called to glorify God in all that we do with abandon. The Westminster Confession put’s it this way, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” We are called to glorify God in everything we do. You know, if the grackle could be more discreet in it’s roosting and fecal issues but be more public in it’s singing perhaps we wouldn’t call it the Devil Bird. Likewise if we as Christians were more discreet in certain areas and more cognizant of the reflection we place on God through our actions than perhaps that search engine auto-fill might change. The writer of Hebrews speaks of our obligation to glorify God in these terms, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” – Hebrews 13:15-16

Maybe we just need to focus on glorifying God through praise and goodness and sharing with others. Then I think we may be less grackle and more songbird when it comes to the way others see us.

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