I was watching a beautiful blue heron that had perched in the river near our campsite one summer. He stood stoically, like a statue, waiting for the moment when his prey, an unsuspecting small fish, would swim close enough to become lunch.
Day after day, I noted his watch over about 100 yards of river—his presence was consistent. He was beautiful, almost prehistoric in appearance...but always in that same stretch of river.
Then one morning, his tranquil watch was disrupted. Another blue heron flew in and landed about 30 yards down river. “Gaaawk, gaaaaaawk, gaaaaaaawk!” he screeched and flew menacingly toward his neighbor. Without a fight, and with only a brief squawking response, the second heron scrambled and flapped out of sight.
I remember thinking about how that beautiful, stoic bird had suddenly changed. He went from being calm and peaceful to being an angry, charging threat.
Obviously, that 100 yard section of water "belonged" to my heron friend--or at least HE thought so. He was fine and relaxed until someone else wanted a piece of it--that's when the feathers flew, literally! Sharing, co-harvesting, or even co-existing on this 100 yard stretch was out of the question!
People and Territory
People aren't much different.
If you doubt me on this, try sitting in someone's "usual seat" at church next Sunday. They may not squawk and flap at you (although some will), but the looks you'll get and the cold shoulder treatment after the service will likely prove my point.
Or, here's another option: Try doing someone else's job. I mean, try helping them by filling in or putting something away, etc., without being asked. Often, the response is outrage. Sometimes, worse! In a union shop, you might get fined--or even terminated.
Territorial greed. You know, it doesn't make much sense for Christians to feel this or to act on it if it pops-up. We know that everything belongs to God (I Cor 10:26). We know that he's going to burn-it-up and replace it when Jesus returns (2 Peter 3:13). And, we know that if we give/share what we have, God promises to bless us with even more than what we gave (Luke 6:38, etc.).
So why would we freak out over "stuff" or "territory" if we know it's really God's, not ours anyway?
Truth is, if we remember this and stay focused on it, we WON'T! And I think that would be a good thing...don't you?
To that end,