A Most Unusual Metaphor

My Birding Professor Loved Birds

Colorful bird trapped in a birding net.In college, I watched my ornithology professor capture live birds using a mist net. He erected the net in a clearing. When the class returned a few hours later, a sparrow had become entangled in the fine mesh. The professor gently freed the netted bird and cupped it firmly in his hand, folding the wings close to the bird’s body. He weighed it, banded its leg, and then jotted down a few quick notes. Meanwhile, the trembling sparrow immediately pooped on its captor’s hand. My professor casually shook off the bird poop and went on with his work, releasing the bird back into the sky a minute later.

Being pooped on didn’t bother my professor much, because it happened frequently as he caught and handled live birds. If the sparrow’s involuntary “digestive insult” had enraged him, this man could have easily crushed the bird in his fist or hurled the small feathered body into a tree trunk. Sparrows are very fragile.

Our Sin is Just Like…

Two small sparrows perched on a man's hand.So why am I writing about bird poop? Because bird poop is a good metaphor for our sin. It’s unpleasant and disgusting but happens as a natural consequence of handling wild birds.

Just like bird poop, Christians sometimes behave in sinful ways, creating unholy messes. A sinning Christ follower with a softened heart repents and cries out to God immediately. Those messes tend to stay small. A more rebellious Christian creates messes which can reach catastrophic levels before calling for divine help.

Our God’s Unexpected Response Toward Sinning People

Here’s the amazing thing; we serve a God who wants us to run toward Him when we sin. Many of us know the promise of I John 1:8-9;

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. NIV

Sparrow perched within a blue wire fence grid.I have always stumbled over the idea that because our God is just, He forgives us when we ask. I think of the word “just” as the opposite of merciful. A just judge would give you the punishment you deserve. But our “faithful and just” God forgives and purifies us the moment we come before Him in simple honesty.

 Our Father grieves when His children sin, because He knows the damage sin does in people’s lives. But our sin will never cause God to suddenly drop us or walk away. We are His adopted sons and daughters; He hand-picked each one of us.

Just as my MSU ornithology professor expected captured birds to poop on him, our Heavenly Father has already seen the ugliest sin you or I possess—yet He chose to invite us to spend eternity with Him anyway.

All images are from Pixabay.com

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