The courtship of the Red-winged Blackbird centers as distinctly about the display of the scarlet epaulettes as does the courtship of the Peacock about the display of his train.
This humorous vision of blackbirds as Peacock Wannabies from a 1920 description brings to mind a pastor’s lesson from many years ago titled, The Law of the Pecking Order. Here’s the story.
Old time hen roosts used to be built as pyramids. For example one might have five roosts on the bottom level, four next up, etc., until you reached the hen that “ruled the roost”.
Not surprisingly, the hens on the bottom level constantly got excrement dumped on them from above. An ambitious hen would respond by constantly pecking at one of the hens above. If that hen got irritated enough to jump out, her spot was instantly taken by the one below. Ultimately the goal of every hen was to take the top spot and hold it as long as possible.
Stupid chickens - right? But have you ever considered how like chickens you and I are?
In my work with hurting people, I’ve discovered that in any given group setting there is a pecking order at work. This is extremely easy to see in the people who come to our Christian group home for help. With each new person, you can almost see the mind calculating as it assesses where in the pecking order they are.
Once they’ve established where they think they are, they begin working to elevate themselves in the eyes of others. Unlike chickens however, people use their perceived strengths to step up their status. One, noting that ours is a Christian program may use their arsenal of Bible quotes to establish position. Another may represent themselves as smarter than the rest. Still another (usually male) may use their physical prowess, etc.
The other similarity is that people who rely on their pecking order status almost always have conflict with others that they perceive as close to them in the pecking order. Seldom will they even try to interact with someone way above or below them.
Jesus wrestled with His own crew of pecking-order people as the disciples constantly elbowed for favored status. No matter how often He told them that the Kingdom operated differently, they never seemed to get it. He even told them that in His Kingdom the one on the bottom would be the one at the point of the pyramid getting dumped on by everyone else.
Finally he had to show them by allowing all the sins of the world to be dumped on Him.
So where are you today? Are you constantly striving (subtly of course) to establish and raise your status in an ever so “Christian” way? If so, perhaps you share more the silly blackbird’s peacock wannabie mentality than you care to admit.
We could all use a regular reading of Philippians 2. If we are truly to be imitators of Christ then our main assignment is seeking the welfare of others through humble, obedient servant-hood. Who sits at the top getting dumped on by others is God’s choice and not ours.
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