A young friend of mine (Charlton Clayton) posted an Instagram pic on his wall that reminded me of an old story with a super powerful truth attached to it. It goes like this; If you fill a glass Mason Jar with 100 black ants (think picnic) and 100 red ants (think OUCH!), you now have 200 ants. Here is the non-math part of the story. Those 200 ants get along just fine, living and anting together.
But then some knucklehead comes along and shakes the jar. They don’t shake it vigorously, but they shake it pretty well. The Mason Jar is now shaken, not stirred, but the 200 ants, having been disoriented and “all shaken up,” have picked sides. They are no longer just 200 ants living in harmony. They are now 100 red ants versus 100 black ants. And the peaceful Mason Jar is now a full-on battleground.
If you haven’t figured out the natural correlation to our shaken-up world, let me spell it out for you. You pick the division, and I’ll show you the jar shaker. You determine the problem, and I’ll show you the constant instigators. You point out the divisiveness, and I’ll show you the dividers.
How about this? Let’s get in the mason jar and refuse to be shaken or stirred. Let’s determine that we do not need others to do our thinking or our speaking for us. Let us think and reason on our own. Let us speak on and of our personal convictions and conclusions. Let’s tell the truth, keep no secrets, and respect each other.
Let’s stop the insanity of hate-filled rhetoric that has trickled down with all the gentleness of Niagra Falls onto our children.
I am not suggesting that we hide from the differences and divisions. Let’s face it; we have green ants, brown ants, black ants, mean ants, red ants, fire ants, and flying ants. Did you know that there are more than 12,000 species of ants on this planet? In some ways, they are all living together in a globe-shaped Mason Jar.
They do not need us to teach them how to live and survive. They just need to appreciate all the ants.
Allowing jar-shaking leaders in our churches, courtrooms, classrooms, and chambers should be criminal. Let’s live, lead, teach, serve and parent with a passion for loving one another. I know. What a preacher thing to say? But really, why is this so hard? Little kids playing together couldn’t care less what kind of ant you are. They don’t care if you are a right-wing ant or a moderate ant. They aren’t concerned about if you are a brown ant or a green ant. They do care if you play nicely. It’s a universal action…being nice.
Jesus said, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
He instigated and directed that we first love, then forgive, then love even more. And if we, who claim to be Followers of Jesus are spending more time shaking jars or griping about who shakes the jar, we missed the whole point, didn’t we? Maybe we are spending our time listening to and watching the jar shakers to the point that we don’t recognize the commonalities of all us like ants in the jar anymore?
We are all ants, living in a globe-shaped jar. Stop giving the jar shakers a voice. Give your head and heart to serving the fellow ants in the jar with grace, dignity, kindness, and good old-fashioned love. I think we’ll live in a far better jar.