We saw a new bird darting in and out of the azalea limbs on the side of the house away from the feeder, a small black bird with a white belly and orange patches on its wings and tail—and American Redstart, I discovered later, a bug-eater, which explained why he avoided the bird feeder. I don’t know why it had never crossed my mind before—no wonder I only saw a few birds there, the same varieties over and over. Birdseed simply does not appeal to all birds. Now if I could figure out a way to keep live bugs there too and allow the birds to come and go as they please, I would see a big increase in numbers.
What people see of the gospel in our lives determines who and even if we attract others to it. I can remember times past when we were so afraid of unscriptural denominational doctrines that we swung the pendulum too hard in the other direction and wound up being miserable. Since the scriptures plainly teach that it is possible to fall from grace and that humility is necessary for salvation, we never allowed ourselves to say, “I know I am going to Heaven.” Why, how arrogant could one be? Don’t you know that you can sin so as to lose your salvation? So hope, a confident expectation of salvation, disappeared from our lives.
We treated sin as a constant, a mysterious miasma that afflicted us every day of our lives whether we knew it or not. “Forgive us, Lord, for we know we sin all the time.” We thought we could not avoid it no matter how hard we tried, not even with help from the Lord. So we went around looking over our shoulders, wondering when it would attack us and hoping that when we died we would have seen death coming and had time to shoot off a quick prayer for forgiveness.
What did we present to the world? Fear, frustration, hopelessness, anxiety, bitterness, dread, desperation—and then we looked to our neighbors and said, “Hey! Don’t you want what I have?” Why were we so surprised when none did?
I think we would attract far more to our “feeder” if we showed them the joy, hope, peace, and love that the first century Christians did. We can because the scriptures plainly teach that we can overcome sin if we will and that God’s grace will help us when we fail; they teach that we can be assured of our salvation. God is not sitting up there watching and waiting for us to slip so he can say, “Aha! Gotcha!”
What’s on your bird feeder today? The seed of the Word of God, or just a bunch of bugs?
“My little children, these things write I unto you that you may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world…These things have I written unto you, that you may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 2:1,2; 5:13).
Article by Dene Ward