God’s creation holds not a few phenomenal occurrences which preach to us remarkable lessons. One such object lesson comes to us from the field of biology, featuring two fish involved in a fascinating mutual relationship. At day’s end, the Oriental sweetlips, the larger of the two fish, stands in need of a “toothbrush” to remove the plaque and other residue from its teeth. Swimming along the coral reef, it stops at a certain “cleaning station” from which little blue-streak wrasses shoot out swiftly to accept the invitation to dinner, entering the gaping mouth or the gills of the larger fish. What a meal they enjoy as they clean the teeth of the Oriental sweetlips, which patiently holds its mouth open for the cleaning and then generously allows its little blue friends to exit without devouring them! Thus, both species amazingly benefit each other by upholding this mutual relationship.
Astounding? Most certainly! As was said by one spiritual teacher, “Interdependence is a fundamental law of nature.” However, this amazing interdependent relationship which God has instinctively put into His lower creation, waxes pale when compared to the deeply-knit and widely-encompassing relationships existing among humankind! We’ll just say it like it is: We need each other! We draw many benefits from each other! We need each other’s fellowship and companionship! “It is not good that the man should be alone,” said the Creator. The very word, alone, sounds like a sorrowful moan. We hear the groaning of a heart longing for human closeness and togetherness. Online shopping can’t supply this. The ATM machine spitting out the cash does meet some needs, but not this one. The cold screens of televisions and laptop computers are no remedies for the crying need of a warm human touch. The World Wide Web has become an ensnaring web, addicting people to their gadgets and thus deceitfully severing them from real-life contacts which are so essential and far more meaningful. The populace, glued to the cell phone, has rarely been lonelier. Mankind simply needs mankind! God ordained it so!
See how a preacher from long ago used scriptural examples to underline this God-ordained principal: “Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down” (John 6:11). The hungry thousands were sitting in this place of much grass. Jesus could have performed this miracle without the aid of the lad’s five barley loaves and two small fishes. He could have, in the words of the aforementioned preacher, “made manna to rain upon the desert, and saved His disciples the trouble of so tedious a distribution.” I can well imagine how the bread would have gently fallen onto everyone’s lap. But here’s the lesson: Jesus wanted people to minister to people.
Then there is the incident in John chapter 11: Christ, by divine power, raised Lazarus from death. This same power could have loosed the grave clothes binding the man coming forth from the grave. Omnipotence has no limits! Yet, Jesus gave man the command to “loose him.” Human hands were to reach out to human needs.
We, as one race, one blood, and one global community have the same overall needs: We crave human love and understanding, we desire human attention, and we need mutual relationships. We have felt the present imposition of social distancing to be unnatural and strange. On the other hand, how unifying and invigorating it is to work, pray, plan, celebrate, and eat together! Even Jesus said to His apostles, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” “The sharing of food,” says Victoria Pope, “has always been part of the human story … ‘To break bread together,’ a phrase as old as the Bible, captures the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, provoke laughter … And even when times are tough, the urge to celebrate endures.” Think of World War I, December 24, 1914, when enemy troops mysteriously melted together, sang carols, shook hands, and gave each other food and gifts. That was genuinely human. The dreadful return to combat shortly after, was not.
The creation is in a crisis, stricken with sin, tragedy, disease, fear, and an ominous future. We must walk hand in hand, together, through this vale of tears. “Two are better than one,” says the Bible, “for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. We are our “brother’s keeper” and as someone expressed so fittingly, it is “a genetic imperative that we huddle together and hold on to each other.” If ever there has been a need to “hold on to each other,” it is now!
“Exploring Creation with Biology” (2nd Edition, Wile and Durnell)
“National Geographic” (Dec. 2014. “Food” by Victoria Pope)
“The Christmas Truce” (Patricia Edmonds)