Given their small size and high nutrient content, anchovies live a pretty fear-driven life, knowing that around every corner could be a predator.
Yet, they still exist and even thrive in great numbers throughout the ocean.
How is this possible, and what might Christians learn from their tenacity?
1. Christians are STRONGER together.
One anchovy is not very powerful, but the good thing about them is that they travel in large schools.
Very large schools.
They have numerous predators who can smell them from a mile away, so when it comes down to life vs. death, the anchovies swim together and form an incredible display of power called a “bait ball.”
When anchovies are in a bait ball, these tiny little fish come together to form one giant tornado. They move together and whip through the water in a confusing array, making it difficult for their predator to focus on one fish. It’s a fascinating sight.
You can see how anchovies create their amazing bait balls here.
And so the Devil works and attacks us too — through disease, death, hatred and disorder.
It is often difficult for Christians to understand or recognize when they are being attacked. Some Christians start thinking it’s really just their own inability to be “good,” and so they’ll distance themselves from friends and families. They hope they can “fix” the problem without anyone knowing.
This can be a fatal mistake.
Just as the anchovies become a quick meal after being distanced from their bait ball, so are Christians when they detach themselves from their church and families.
There are many people who believe they can be Christians without going to church, and while that is technically true, it definitely deprives them of crucial relationships and support to help fight against the Enemy.
But when tough situations arise, that person may find it difficult to understand how they are being attacked and get into big trouble.
As it says in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Even if it hurts, Christians should stay communicative and open with other Christians to grow the bonds of trust between members and strengthen each other for the battles ahead.
2. Saving Others Means Saving Yourself
When anchovies form a bait ball, they do so with uncertainty over what the future may hold.
During a shark attack, the anchovies swirl around and around trying to confuse their predator. However, at some point, the shark will attack and some of the anchovies will surely be eaten.
Symbolically, this is also a sober truth for Christians.
It is no mystery that Christians are a target for persecution, as the Lord promised during his mission. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.”
However, throughout the ages, Christians have flourished in hostile environments.
Despite having nothing more than a message of peace, the disciples were able to convince old and young alike to give up their traditions and old beliefs for something “new.”
This is surely due to the work of the Holy Spirit, which guided the disciples to work selflessly for the Mission. It is also a testament to the power of working together.
As the anchovies risk their lives to become one with the bait ball, so Christians should be willing to give up their own lives to become one with the Church.
We must be willing to sacrifice our time, effort, and selfhood for the greater purpose — to stand strong with other believers — as the Enemy approaches.
As it says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
So shall Christians be when they join forces with the universal Church in fighting against the wickedness of Satan.
3. The Devil is Division; the Ultimate is Unity.
When anchovies form a bait ball, predators have a difficult time fixing their attention onto a single fish.
Because of this, the predator will attempt to separate anchovies from one another through random attacks that make the anchovies scurry away from the group.
When an anchovy is separated from the group, it is a truly dangerous time and they are more likely to get devoured (as seen at the end of the bait ball video).
During a time of crisis, some people find it difficult to join with others and share their pain.
Their first response to an attack (whether internally or externally caused) is to withdraw from all social activity and attempt to heal alone. While time alone is helpful from time to time, long term withdrawal is a sign of division – and a tool of the Devil.
Human beings are social creatures by nature and require others to help shape them into empathetic, well-rounded, sane individuals.
To separate oneself from the Church, not only do we do others a disservice, but we also put ourselves at considerable risk of becoming the focus of an attack by the Devil.
Nothing better serves a person who is suffering despair, sickness, or sadness than getting involved in a church.
As a person gets more involved, they will find their lives fulfilled with service, prayer and compassion. They will grow strong bonds with the Spirit of the Lord and with their brethren who share that passion and devotion to the Father.
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10
Christians can rest assured that God will provide in times of hardship and that they only need to reach out to Him and His people to receive the protection and tools to surmount any obstacle.
As the Bible says, worrying is not in the Christian character. (Philippians 4:6). As long as we stick with one another, there is nothing to fear.
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:4-5)
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