I went whale-watching today. It’s our last day of vacation here in the Canary Islands, a little archipelago of islands clustered off of the coast of North Africa, and apparently this is whale-watching paradise.
I have to admit, we did see a lot of whales! And it was intriguing to notice that they — at least the “pilot whales” we were most watching — were social animals. They were usually seen in groups of two or three. Not only that, but those groups of two or three were hanging out with other groups of two or three.
Science tells us that pilot whales often gather in numbers of 30 or so, but that their groups can number as high as 100. These whales also stay together in smaller, family groups called “pods”. The pods are apparently quite stable and feature close family ties, where the whales care for each other. They also hunt and feed together.
The pilot whales even seemed to want to be social with us on the catamaran. Once we spotted them (were we spotting them, or were they spotting us?), they followed our catamaran for quite some distance. They also seemed playful when they encountered a much larger killer whale that we encountered. Apparently, they didn’t know — or didn’t care — who they were messing with!
The reason I bring this up is that God himself is a social being. Think of the Trinity, for instance. Or consider how many times in the past few days of reading Jesus has emphasized that he loves to please his Father — actually lives to please his Father. Talk about a family bond!
God has clearly designed us to be the same. We are social beings. We’re just plain healthier when we are together with others. Professor Lisa Berkman of Harvard University has investigated social connectedness and longevity, for instance. She looked at the impact of marital status, ties with friends and relatives, club membership, and levels of volunteerism on how well older people aged. Over a nine-year period of study, she found that those with the most social connectedness lived longer.
Which is why one of the greatest gifts of the gospel of Jesus Christ is community. When Jesus died and rose again for us, he won forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. He also won us a new family of brothers and sister who look after us. And we look after them. Christianity creates a family. We call it “church” or “fellowship”. Maybe we could call it “pods” as well!
“Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’
He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one” (John 11:49-52, NIV).
So, maybe it’s time to ask the question: Who from your church family are you going to connect with this week? Remember, Jesus has already given you many connections with brothers and sisters in Christ! Now, you have the opportunity to enjoy it!
Our Bible reading for Wednesday, May 20, is 1 Samuel 5:1 – 7:17, John 11:45 – 12:11 and Proverbs 12:18-27.
Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me a family I can rely on. Thank you for all the love, the support, and the teamwork that we are able to enjoy because we have our own little “pod” called the church.
Header image based on "Photo of the Week - Long-finned Pilot Whales (RI)" by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, CC By 2.0