Nearest Neighbor

Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™  I AM Ministries

“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”

Normal I AM

Wednesday, August 2, 2015

Nearest Neighbor

Did you ever try to get a group of people to agree on pizza toppings? How is your luck getting several people to stand still for a group picture? Shamefully, birds, fish, and insects are much easier to manage in groups. In fact, they do it without human intervention! So what’s wrong with us humans? Scripture provides a humbling assessment.

“Locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks.” (Proverbs 30:27). The Bible reminds us that insects, with tiny, primitive brains, are able to coordinate the movement of millions of their own kind literally “on the fly” – no meetings, planning, or other preparations. Likewise, flocks of birds and schools of fish perform this same fete effortlessly, with a graceful and mesmerizing effect. How do these simple creatures accomplish this when large-brained humans fail miserably?

This uniform movement phenomenon puzzled scientists for years. Researchers first investigated the possibility of a complex method of inter-communication among the creatures. Recently, however, scientists have concluded it is just the opposite – each critter focuses only on the position and direction of its nearest neighbor. When the neighbor shifts course, so does the other. These subtle changes are propagated instantly throughout the entire swarm, flock, or school. There is no designated leader; everyone is just following their closest companion. If they ate pizza, they would probably agree on toppings just as easily.

Ironically, human swarms often act out the same follow-the-leader behavior, but for a dubious purpose and in a self-centered way. When we commute in heavy traffic, we tend to follow closely behind the car in front of us. When they change speed and to some extent direction, so do we. From the air, a multi-lane highway resembles a linear swarm of locusts, with no king in sight, only cars on an endless ribbon of highway. As a side note, scientists observe how fish stay two body lengths behind their neighbor; commuters tend to tailgate much closer!

Spiritually, “tailgating” can be a good thing. Christians benefit from following closely their closest neighbor in Christ. Conversely, great harm can come when we fail to do so. In the Garden of Eden, Eve separated herself from her husband and spiritual confidant, Adam. While she was alone, Satan launched his attack and sin entered the world. Our companion choices make a difference. We must also check the spiritual direction of those closest to us. Satan tried to lead Jesus in unBiblical directions and Jesus called him on it. We must challenge our confidants if their words or actions do not align with Scripture.

Similarly, when God brought the Israelites out of the desert and into the Promised Land, He warned them to stay close together, both physically and spiritually. They were forbidden to associate with the surrounding pagan nations, lest they intermarry. Marrying a pagan replaced God with Baal, Molech, or other false god as your closest spiritual partner. This rebellious practice caused God’s Chosen People much hardship, punishment, and grief from God’s wrath. The Book of Judges ends with the sad proclamation, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” Even the locusts were better off than the Israelites.

Flocking with your own kind has practical as well as spiritual benefits. During World War 2, Americans learned that sending ships across the Atlantic in a cluster or convoy reduced the German U boats’ ability to sink our ships. When ships spread out randomly, the enemy has a greater probability of finding one or more ships to sink. Sadly, our military elite learned this lesson at the cost of many lives. Their experience should humble us as well – even the uneducated minnow knows sea travel is safer in a school!

Jesus knew we humans act like sheep, who move in flocks and are prone to go astray. This is still true today. Society pressures us to go our own way, not God’s way. Modern mentors encourage us to deviate from the norm rather than follow God’s normal ways and, sadly, many find it easier to follow sin than righteousness. We are taught to exercise our individual rights, but not to uphold our responsibilities to others or our nation. It seems the more we emphasize individualism, the more society unravels. No wonder it’s impossible to obtain a consensus on pizza toppings – everyone wants his own way (Judges 21:25).

Unlike the creatures of the Earth, we humans have an eternal King who will lead us in the right direction spiritually. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to show us the Way. Jesus should always be your nearest neighbor and you should always follow Him. Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:12). Early Christians stayed close to one another despite severe persecution, allowing them to prevail despite heartbreaking losses at times. The church today should remember this lesson.

It is normal to follow Jesus our King and other Christians as closely as possible. Jesus will always lead you in the Godly direction because His mission is to give you eternal life and life abundant on Earth. Satan will always lead you in an ungodly direction because his mission is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Don’t be a locust without a king. Don’t be separated from your spiritual partner as Eve was. Stay in the Christian convoy so Satan’s U boat won’t sink you. Be part of Jesus’ flock. Make Him your nearest neighbor and He will never lead you astray.

In His love and service,

Jeff Myers
A servant of Jesus Christ


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