Sweet as Honey–Bees and the Church
This evening I attended a beekeeping 101 class at a local farm store. My wife has been wanting to keep bees for some time so that we can have fresh honey; I was tasked to learn all about it. I have to admit, while fresh honey does sound delicious, getting stung is not something I look forward to.
During the class, a question was asked about the frequency of bee stings. The instructor said that if we listen to our bees we shouldn’t get stung. Phew! But then she said, “I usually get stung about 5 times per year.” What! Getting stung once in a lifetime is more than enough for me, lol.
All kidding aside, I did learn some fascinating stuff today. I learned that bees have a very intentional and efficient way of life. I also realized there is much Christians can learn from bees. Here are a few lessons:
1. Bees live in a very tight community known as a colony. The church is supposed to be this way. When we give our lives to Jesus, we are grafted into the family of Christ–sons and daughters of God. Why is it that many churches behave more like foes than friends? If bees treated each other the way many Christians do, there would be no honey. Oh, maybe that’s why we don’t see much fruit in our churches these days.
2. Each colony has a queen bee whose main purpose in life is to make more worker bees. Is that our purpose in the church? Is the great commission about swelling our numbers so that we can say we’ve grown or are we making workers?
3. As soon as a new bee hatches, they begin a short life cycle. They also immediately begin working. The work they are assigned will depend on their age. Initially, they will be house-keepers. Then they go to the nursery. After which they begin working outside. Regardless of where they are assigned, one thing is for sure. They all work hard and graciously.
There’s a lot I can say about this one. First off, whether we like it or not, our existence is but a flicker in the light of eternity. We have but a handful of years. How are we using the time God has given us? Are we going about our Father’s business or are we so focussed on our own affairs that little to no time is left for the Lord? Secondly, is there a place in our churches for all to labor–both young and old? Surely, if bees can put everyone to work, we can too. Finally, are we content? Do we aspire to heights that are not in God’s plan for our lives? Remember, this is how Lucifer fell. He wanted more than what had been assigned to him. Can we graciously accept the tasks given us and fulfill those to our best abilities with joy in our hearts knowing that we are contributing to the whole?
4. Honey production and the survival of the colony depend largely on what they feed on. If there is enough of the right kind of food, they do well and can prepare for the hard times. On the other hand, a poor harvest could spell doom for the colony. How is it with us? How are we preparing? Are we feeding on the Word of God which will prepare us for every trial and tribulation that might arise? Without it, our future is grim.
5. There was much more, but I’ll end with this. This one is not so flattering for the bees. I learned that bees are extremely dependent on the queen bee. Without her, the hive cannot survive. If the queen dies and the keeper catches it in time, a new queen can be introduced (as long as one can be procured). If in the right season, the bees will make their own queen. However, if the season is not right (heading into winter) and a queen cannot be found, the colony will die. Over the years, churches have trended to be pastor dependent. Their success or failure has been largely dependent on the talent, vision and charisma of the pastor. Once the pastor leaves, pandemonium sets in. Some churches are unable to recover and eventually die. How sad. I think it high time that we become God dependent vs. clergy dependent. Just as the beekeeper can keep a colony going by introducing a new queen, the Lord is watching and caring over his flock and will lovingly provide for it if only we will trust in Him.
I don’t know if we will ever get bees. However, the lessons I learned today will stick with me for years to come. One thing is for sure, God’s creations are magnificent. It’s no wonder Christ taught from nature. It’s also no wonder that according to Romans 1:20, because of God’s creation, all of humanity will be without excuse if they choose to not be a part of His kingdom.