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Beeing in Community

May 11, 2011

As we sat on the patio, we saw a dark swirl across the lawn. A closer look revealed a swarm of honey bees looking for a place to land for the night. Gradually the cloud got lighter and a ‘beecicle’ began to form in the tree. By the end of the evening, thousands of bees were clinging to one another and settled in for a needed rest. 

This phenomenon tapped our curiosity and drew us out to take a closer look. However, the few bees still circling the pack convinced us to keep a safe distance. What is interesting is that this swarm had enough stingers and venom to keep 10 grown men at bay. However, thousands of bees were packed tightly together forming one large mass and not one of them got stung! 

The Christian community can learn an important lesson from the bees. We have ‘stingers’ too. We have words, rules, and theological tenants that have been honed to very fine points. As fast as a bee can deploy it stinger, we can take a stab at folks around us. The critical thing for us to learn is that bees only use their ‘weapons’ when threatened by an intruder. When in their community they withhold any attack and form a powerful, cooperative bond. 

We so easily inject our venom on those closest to us. Our tongues put a stinger in the heart of a child with a word of condemnation. They form a prickly barrier in our fellowship with gossip about a neighbor. They put up a shield that separates us from other Christ followers with arrogant theological pronouncements. The tragic consequence of our ‘stings’ is that those who long for the loving salvation community are fearful of getting too close.

Thousands of bees can keep their venom in check for the good of the community. Maybe some day, we can be known more for the sweet honey of community than the threat of a poisonous barb. Maybe we can learn how God has called us to ‘bee’ in community.

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