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Consider the Ants

Consider the Ants

I am fascinated by ants. The crazy ant to be more specific. Right
now as I write this, our kitchen is being completely overtaken by them.
There is much to hate about the ant, but there is also much to be
astounded by. Ants tend to be nocturnal, as do I, so I figured I should
spend some time watching them and figure out where they’re coming from.
Last night I opened my pantry and with a flashlight followed the line of
hundreds of worker ants down the pantry, onto the floor and all the way
to my laundry room where they were hiding in the wall. Besides being
kept up all night thinking they were crawling all over me, I also
learned a few things.

This may sound a little strange but I believe the ant has much to teach us about community, and Proverbs 6:6 would agree with me.

Ants do their research. They know where the food is.
The queen will send out a scout who will explore the area and figure
out exactly where the food is so the community will be provided for.
This is a role that pastors and elders cannot overlook. Not only should a
pastor survey the spiritual landscape to lead the community to
spiritual nutrition, but also survey the needs in the community at large
so he or she can send out the worker ants to where they are needed.

Every ant is a worker ant. The worker ants are the
hands and the feet of the queen. Every ant is a “missionary” and is sent
into the world for a purpose. Every ant has a role in the community—no
ant is left out. The inclusiveness of the colony is unmistakable. There
are some special roles like scout and queen, but everyone else is a
worker and simply serves their community.

It’s easy to go to a church service every week and have no role in
the colony. We are the hands and feet of our King—we need to serve, we
need to work; it’s not a negotiable for the ants, neither is it for the

Ants are very adaptable to change. If they get moved
out of one place, they find another place to live. Ants are willing to
do whatever it takes, even if it means living in electrical outlets,
appliances, pipes, you name it. The church needs to be flexible, fluid
and ready to adapt to every landscape and situation that comes our way,
too. Change is inevitable—a church should be organic enough to flow with
the changes while being creative to discover ways to thrive in
challenging times.

Ants don’t quit or get easily discouraged. Ants
don’t give up. When ants build an anthill they are persevering to a
fault. You can squash the anthill, and they immediately go back to work
as if nothing happened. As comedian Brian Regan says, “You would think
that they would take at least a second to look at what happened and go
‘OH MAN!’”

I find myself so easily discouraged with the church sometimes. Every
once in a while for good reason, other times because I’m being
completely immature. It may be through an article I read or lackluster
weekend-messages, but I can often get discouraged about my current
church situation. But I’ve realized I have to find a way to brush it
off; I need to focus on what’s really important. I need to focus on the
mission—what’s really important—not just food for the colony, but Jesus
for the world.

You can’t stop ants. The most dangerous thing about
the ant: It is near impossible to get rid of them. Ants are like a
virus—they just keep popping up all over. It’s like they’ve been given a
mandate that nothing will ever prevail against them.

When someone attempts to harm the ants that are currently out in the
field the remaining 95% of the workers will become stressed and split
into two or more new colonies. Now both the colonies will continue to
work and grow and become twice as large as before. In times of
persecution ants grow even stronger.

Why can’t they be stopped? They stick together. If they would spread
out and go it alone, they would surely die; but they don’t. Besides the
scouts who survey the landscape with a few others, no one leaves the
community to try to survive alone. They know that to do so would be
certain death.

Maybe God created ants not only to irritate us and ruin our food, but so we could learn a few things about living together.

So, thank you, crazy ants, for all that you teach us about community.

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