The Tendency of Tangency
by Elder James L. Groce
There is a bird, the cuckoo, who is a common in England and many other parts of the world (or so I have read). The first sign of spring is that bird’s call. The cuckoo never builds its own nest. When it feels an egg coming on, it finds another nest with eggs and no parent bird. The cuckoo lands, hurriedly lays its egg, and takes off again. That’s all the cuckoo does in terms of parenting. (We have a lot of cuckoos in our society today!)
The thrush, whose nest has now been invaded, comes back, circles, and comes into the wind to land. Not being very good at arithmetic, it can’t imagine why the nest immediately begins to list to starboard. It gets to work hatching the eggs. Four little thrushes and one large cuckoo eventually hatch. The cuckoo is two or three times the size of the thrushes.
Mrs. Thrush, having hatched the five little birds, goes off early in the morning to get the worm. She comes back, circles the nest to see four petite thrush mouths and one cavernous cuckoo mouth. Who gets the worm? The cuckoo.
Guess what happens. The cuckoo gets bigger and bigger; the little thrushes get smaller and smaller.
To find a baby cuckoo in a nest, simply walk along a hedge row until you find little dead thrushes. The cuckoo throws them out one at a time until eventually only one very large cuckoo remains. Here’s an adult thrush feeding a baby cuckoo that is three times as big as the thrush and somehow does not miss the now gone little thrushes.
There is a real danger in tangent preaching and in seeking ONLY the kind of messages that are enjoyable to preach. Many people sitting at a table full of food in various bowls quickly disregard the foods that are unappealing to them and reach only for their favorites. This pick-and-choose practice in the Word is indeed a dangerous custom.
The tragedy of the out-of-balance preaching and ministry is that a tangent will have future disastrous consequences because unbalanced lives will devour the life of the things that we should have nourished and protected… prayer, worship, devotion, godliness, etc. etc. We must be careful to “declare the whole counsel of God.” That’s why there is still a five-fold ministry in God’s church today.