Did you know that bluebirds were once on the brink of extinction? Their habitat was slowly disappearing. Orchards with carefully pruned trees meant no more cavities in the trunks and branches, their preferred nesting sites. Pesticides meant fewer insects for them to eat, and many of the bugs that survived were tainted with poison that killed the birds that ate them. Encroaching civilization meant more house sparrows (which are not true sparrows) and starlings to steal their nests. Bluebird houses put up by interested people and their careful monitoring of the nests has, almost single-handedly, saved them.
But still, I wondered, what makes it a bluebird house? Bluebird houses are built in dimensions bluebirds like, shallow depth of 3½ to 5 inches. I guess they like it cozy. A good bluebird house has good drainage and cross ventilation. It also has no perch outside the entrance, which keeps away predators. A sparrow-proof bluebird house will have a slot entrance instead of a round hole because sparrows do not like slots, while bluebirds don’t mind them.
As for the monitoring, songbirds have a notoriously bad sense of smell, so it is perfectly acceptable to open the houses and check the nest and the fledglings every day for parasites or “squatters.” Monitors can even rebuild the nest if parasites are found without upsetting the bluebird. They also know the different types of nests and remove the ones that are not bluebird nests. After a successful clutch has hatched and flown, they remove the old nest and clean it out for the next.
Do you think I can’t get any lessons out of this? Watch me.
Too many times we get picky about the people we share the gospel with. I have heard things like, “We need to convert them. They’d be a good addition to the church,” a thought based upon the lifestyle and income of the family in question rather than their need for the gospel. We “sparrow-proof” the church by making it unfriendly and unattractive to the people we don’t want to deal with—who wants people with real problems?
We aren’t the only ones with that bad attitude. The Pharisees thought it terrible that Jesus taught sinners. At least four times in the book of Luke we see them approaching either him or the disciples asking why he associated with such wicked people, (5:30; 7:39; 15:1,2; 19:7). They turned their noses up at the very people they should have been trying to save.
The first Christians were Jewish. Guess who they did not want the apostles to convert? Peter had to defend himself after he converted the Gentile Cornelius, Acts 11. Defend himself, mind you, because he saved souls!
Then in James 2 we read of a church that didn’t want poor people among them. They went out of their way NOT to welcome anyone who was not obviously well-to-do.
If you have not seen attitudes like these, you are either blessed in the congregation you find yourself a part of, or not very old. Keith was once chastised for bringing the “wrong class” of people to church. They came from “the other side of the tracks.”
The Lord didn’t die just for the bluebirds. He died for those squawking, brash blue jays too. He died for those territorial cardinals. He died for those common, ordinary, dime-a-dozen sparrows. He even died for those disgusting buzzards. All those people need salvation too, not just the bluebirds.
Jesus told the Pharisees who questioned him three parables. The last, the lost son, included an older brother who obviously did not want his little brother saved. Jesus made it plain that the older brother was as much in need of grace as the younger. It had to be obvious to those Pharisees that his remarks were directed to them. They are directed to us too, when we try to make his house “for bluebirds only.”
For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died; and he died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again. From now on therefore we regard no one according to the flesh… 2 Cor 5:14-16.