Harbingers of fall, flocks of Canada geese stitch familiar V patterns across the blue prairie sky as they migrate south. My eye is drawn to them — a chevron of graceful birds marking distance as one unit. I wonder how each bird knows to fly slightly above and behind the goose ahead, creating an aerodynamic formation. Or how the larger, stronger lead goose knows when it is time to give way to a fresh replacement.
Their combined action creates synergy, resulting in a greater outcome than the sum of their individual efforts. Formation flying allows them to cover as much as 1,500 miles in 24 hours, a distance a single goose could never accomplish.
As with so many aspects of the natural world, there is a spiritual lesson to be drawn from the interdependence of Canada geese. They need each other. Without the support of its flock-mates, a goose could not fulfill its purpose as God designed. Just as we would be greatly inhibited in our Christian life if we did not have a body of believers to walk alongside us. Beyond benefiting ourselves, there is the goal of the greater good.
“We who are strong are not just to satisfy our own desires. We are called to carry the weaknesses of those who are not strong. Each of us must strive to please our neighbors, pursuing their welfare so they will become strong. The Anointed One Himself is our model for this kind of living, for He did not live to please Himself. I pray that our God, who calls you and gives you perseverance and encouragement, will join all of you together to share one mind according to Jesus the Anointed. (Rom. 15:1-3, 5 The Voice)
The apostle Paul wrote these words to Christians coming from differing backgrounds of Judaism and paganism. He urged them to help each other, in spite of the disparities in their former way of life, setting aside selfish motives for the greater good of proclaiming Christ. “In this unity, you will share one voice as you glorify the one True God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, our Liberating King.” (Rom. 15:6)
Just as I see a flock of geese made stronger and faster in unity, so Christians setting aside their differences and coming together create synergy, a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. In this world of self-seeking and personal fulfillment, setting aside our own desires to benefit a greater purpose is almost a foreign concept. Yet when we do, we experience the satisfying peace and connectedness of being a small, vital part of a much bigger cause.
And that cause is love, fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, who told us, “Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.” (John 13:34-35)
Like wind beneath wings, Christ’s love carries us forward into His greater purpose — to love as He loves.
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