A woman went to a pet store and purchased a parrot. She returned the next day complaining the parrot had not said a word.
“Does it have a mirror?” asked the storekeeper. “Parrots are more talkative when they can see themselves.” So, she bought a mirror.
The next day she was back, announcing the bird still wasn’t speaking. “What about a ladder?” the storekeeper asked. “Parrots like to walk up and down ladders.” She bought the bird a ladder and went home. The next day, she was back. Still nothing…
The storekeeper suggested a little swing for the cage. She bought one of those, but the parrot still didn’t utter a sound.
The following day she returned to the store to announce the bird had died. The storekeeper said, “I’m terribly sorry to hear that. Did the bird ever say anything before it died?”
“Yes,” replied the woman. “It said, ‘Don’t they sell any food down there at the pet store?”‘
Sometimes the answers to life’s problems are right before us, but we just can’t see them. This poor parrot had the misfortune of having a master with no basic understanding of pet ownership.
“Our calling as Christians is to walk in the ways of Christ.”
We in the church are often like that owner. The woman’s basic drive to buy the parrot seemed to be the novelty of owning a talking bird. She was so focused on making that happen, she ignored the most basic of answers to her dilemma.
Our calling as Christians is to walk in the ways of Christ. That calling is, in many ways, very basic. Yet we often do an end run around the obvious answers and try to come up with cooler, more unique ways of “being Christian.”
One of the basic calls of Christ in our lives is to feed the hungry (i.e., see Matthew 25—the parable of the sheep and goats). Jesus not only told us to do this, he prodded the disciples to act on it as well. Remember the feeding of the 5000?
The disciples saw that the people were hungry. They mentioned it to Jesus and urged him to send them away to get something to eat. We all remember this story because of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. What we often forget is what Jesus told the disciples prior to performing the miracle.
His answer to their suggestion to send them away was basically, “You feed them.” Of course, they argued they didn’t have enough, and the rest is history.
I’m always taken by the simplicity of his directive to them. Just feed them.
Do we wait until we have enough before we feed anyone? What is enough? This can’t be enough, can it? In the meantime, people are starving.
“What a novel way to begin.”
I often think of one of the early missions set up primarily to feed people. When asked how he was going to feed so many of the world’s hungry people, the founder simply said, “One at a time.”
What a novel way to begin.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]