Soeren was intrigued to watch a flock of geese fail to fly south with colder weather. But the novelty of a grounded gaggle planted around his pond gave way to pity several seasons later when they hadn’t left, paying no heed to the honking of fellow flocks on high, flying south. They’d feel inspired for a few moments, flapping their wings and briefly take to air, but quickly settled back down again. It was disturbing to see how these domesticated ‘wild geese’ so easily got on each other’s nerves and eventually any honking from above failed to even raise a fond look, as they pecked the ground, oblivious to their natural calling.
Mike Frost uses Kierkegaard’s parable in ‘Exiles’, “Some churches will hear the wild honking, and their feathers will bristle, their heart skip a beat, their lungs fill the air, ready for the long flight ahead of them. But their feet don’t leave the ground. They love to read about the Christian heroes who have forged Christian movements, addressed grand plans, planted new churches, fed the hungry, fought for justice, but they prefer the security of the farm. Sadly, some Christians don’t even hear the call at all.”
With Frost’s help I’m realising afresh how ‘community’, in God’s plans and purposes, is never to be an end in itself. That was the ‘settling danger’ the Early Jerusalem Church had to have kicked out of it through Stephen’s martyrdom and persecution. Like the eaglet, whose nest becomes more and more prickly as its parents prepare it for flight, individually and together as God’s People, we are designed for journey and mission. But how easy it is to hug the harbour’s comfort rather than set sail for the seas and risky fishing we’re called to.
In ‘Re-Jesus’ (A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church) Frost tells a delicious story of mischievous lads hypnotising loads of chickens, fixing the chooks’ gaze on chalk lines. Google videos of it! Chickens are easily transfixed by a line drawn right in front of their eyes. Well, when farmer dad returned from town, he went ballistic and booted every one of those poor hens up the rear, snapping them from their spell and grounding the boys.
Sometimes sorrow, grief and pain are the only things to budge us from our comfort zones. But, it doesn’t need to be that way. Getting to know the real, wild Christ of the Bible, and following him into the world to share his love and light, is truly inspirational. And the example of other mini-Jesus’s practising the presence of Jesus can inspire us too. ‘Joe’ had been a miserable drunk, pouring his life down the gutter, until he was dramatically converted and spent his life in service, getting alongside people with addiction issues. Such was his impact on others, one alcoholic on bended knee prayed, “God, help me to be like Joe!”Slightly disturbed by this, someone suggested he ask God to help him become more like Jesus, rather than Joe, to which this surprised man said, “How, is Jesus like Joe?”
Exact or not, George MacLeod’s belief that the wild goose was used by Celtic Christians as a symbol of the Holy Spirit is helpful imagery. I’m constantly tempted to conform to cultures of comfort rather than be transformed by Christ’s wild Spirit, honking and helping me find fresh flight in his service. “Father, keep me eager to hear and heed your Spirit’s call to flight and follow Jesus, wherever he leads!”