Sand Flounder: The Official Fish of Today’s Church

Have you ever heard of a Sand Flounder? I remember reading an article about them. They’re fascinating creatures. They begin their lives looking like ordinary fish. But as time goes on and Mother Nature beats them into submission, they become quite grotesque looking.

Apparently they go through larval type SandFlounderstages and do it quite rapidly. They end up becoming very flat and lay on the ocean floor. Their right eye migrates to their left side so both are looking up as it lies there.

One description I read said they are “left handed” (a term I find rather ridiculous for a fish). Some of them become really ugly–even for a fish.

When I read about these misshapen creatures, I immediately thought of today’s church. I suppose that’s insulting to some, but I can’t help it. I’ve been a part of the church most of my life. Frankly, it’s not always pretty.

Interestingly enough, a simple, two-line fish drawing was the clandestine symbol for the early church. It’s the early church from which we’ve evolved to become what we are today—a little grotesque and somewhat deformed.

I don’t say these things lightly.

I realize we live in a different era that demands different strategies and twenty-first century know-how. Yet I often wonder if we need to take somewhat of a U-turn to the first century in our attitudes and actions.

Take a good look at what was happening in the early church. Look at the Book of Acts. Check out the letters of Paul, John, and Peter. How did we get from there to here?

Acts chapter two describes a church that looked out for each other (as well as their neighbors). Their love and compassion for people was so prevalent that they enjoyed “the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

jesus fishI realize it was all new and exciting then, but shouldn’t it still be new and exciting? Every day is new, and serving others is exciting. It seems to me we’ve lost our fervor.

I know we’ve come a long way and we’ve gotten quite large. I just read the following group of statistics:

“World Christianity consists of 6 major ecclesiastico-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions, composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries, these denominations themselves being composed of over 3,400,000 worship centers, churches or congregations.”

With that kind of weight, we’re bound to get a little bogged down in trivia, dogma, and tradition (as well as a myriad of other things we could all mention).

If we actually are like the sand flounder and barely resemble what we started out to be, I believe there is still good news.

  1. God seems to love us still.
  2. God’s grace is sufficient.
  3. Even if we begin taking baby steps back to where we should be, God will bless each of those steps.

Amen?

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