A friend of mine recently began sharing with me some of the frustrations of raising chickens. She began talking about pecking order and the precautions that need to be taken to protect those birds lowest in pecking order. I couldn’t help but see the allegorical social similarities between chickens and kids in junior high. For those of you, like me, who were of the “lowest pecking order” amongst our peers in school, you will soon see that we need not stretch the imaginations far to see the lessons to be learned by observing a chicken coop.
Here is an excerpt from the website:
“Pecking at each other is normal chicken behavior. It’s probably the most used form of communication amongst a flock. Sometimes when a chicken is molting, it will have bald spots. Normal pecking will often result in a wound. The chickens doing the pecking don’t necessarily aim for the bald spot, it just happens.
“But when chickens draw blood, they go a little berserk. For some reason, blood sends everyone into a frenzy, and they further attack the already-wounded animal. The more blood there is, the more they attack; and most often, this will end in death for the wounded animal.
“Sometimes, I will have a chicken that just gets picked upon constantly. She’s most likely towards the bottom of the pecking order. If she has wounds, I’ll be more likely to remove her from the flock and put her in our chicken infirmary until her wounds are completely healed. If she is molting, I’ll keep her until she is fully feathered again.
We touched on this last week, but it bears repeating; when a chicken has been removed from the flock, it will lose its place in the pecking order and be treated as a newcomer. Newcomers are treated terribly by the existing flock and must prove themselves if they are to be anywhere but the bottom of the pecking order.
“For this reason, it’s important that you always introduce, or reintroduce, chickens to an existing flock in groups of 2 or more so that they get a break from the harassment until the new pecking order is established. It is also important that newbies are in top condition with no bald spots or wounds before being brought back to the coop.”
Sadly, the Church has both wittingly and unwittingly mishandled, hurt, damaged, and in some cases even downright rejected or driven off, certain individuals (namely new believers who have come out of addiction, the occult, an LGBTQ lifestyle, etc.). People who are desperately searching for community — safety, love, acceptance, family.
I wonder if there is something to be learned here. Perhaps rather than throwing the new converts into the deep end of the Christianese pool, we should seek to intentionally identify and set apart these individuals by removing them from the flock (the larger church body/megachurch lobbies and gatherings), and bringing them into a soul infirmary (one-on-one personal discipleship and relationship building), and then introducing them back into the Church coop with “2 or more” gathered around them for support. (Think in terms of Aaron and Hur holding Moses’ arms up throughout the battle).
In God’s economy, the first shall be last and the last shall be first. If this isn’t a verse about pecking order, I don’t know what is! This verse shows us that when Jesus walks into the Christian Coop (aka the Church), He searches out those lowest in the pecking order, He gently picks them up, and holds them in His arms — safe from the frenzy of clucking and pecking — heals their wounds, and sets them back on their feet. He is also there to watch over that fledgling, newly healed bird, ensuring that they move up the pecking order from last to first.
I have seen Him do this in my own life. How beautiful that He has baked this process into observable creation — in a chicken coop, of all places!
Solomon once said, “Consider the ant, O sluggard!” To which I say, “Consider the chickens, O wounded!” And to the Church I say, WHO are you in this scenario? The loving farmer, tending to His much-loved bruised little birdie…or one of the chickens with the smell of some wounded bird’s blood filling your nostrils?
Truth be told, I believe we have all been on both sides of the beak. The good news is, there is hope and healing for all of us.