We are running shy of eagles, and we’re running over with parrots.
Content to sit safely on our evangelical perches and repeat in rapid-fire falsetto our religious words, we are fast becoming overpopulated with bright-colored birds having soft bellies, big beaks, and little heads. What would help to balance things out would be a lot more keen-eyed, wide-winged creatures willing to soar out and up, exploring the illimitable ranges of the kingdom of God . . . willing to return with a brief report on their findings before they leave the nest again for another fascinating adventure.
Parrot people are much different than eagle thinkers. They like to stay in the same cage, pick over the same pan full of seeds, and listen to the same words over and over again until they can say them with ease. They like company too. Lots of attention, a scratch here, a snuggle there, and they’ll stay for years right on the same perch. You and I can’t remember the last time we saw one fly. Parrots like the predictable, the secure, the strokes they get from their mutual admiration society.
Not eagles. There’s not a predictable pinion in their wings! They think. They love to think. They are driven with this inner urge to search, to discover, to learn. And that means they’re courageous, tough-minded, willing to ask the hard questions as they bypass the routine in vigorous pursuit of the truth. The whole truth. “The deep things of God”—fresh from the Himalayan heights, where the thin air makes thoughts pure and clear—rather than the tired, worn distillations of humanity. And unlike the intellectually impoverished parrot, eagles take risks getting their food because they hate anything that comes from a small dish of picked-over seeds . . . it’s boring, dull, repetitious, and dry.
Although rare, eagles are not completely extinct in the historic skies of the church. Thomas Aquinas was one, as were Augustine and Bunyan, Wycliffe and Huss. So were G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Robert Dick Wilson, J. Gresham Machen, W. R. Nicoll, and A. W. Tozer.
Many of the reformers qualify, as do John Newton, George Whitefield, and a long line of nonconformists—original thinkers whose lives were interwoven through the treasured tapestry of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.
And in our day? We could name some . . . but they are increasingly rarer, as the “Entertain Me” philosophy of the public outshouts those who plead, “Make me think!”
Have you fallen prey to a similar mind-set? Do you find yourself contentedly sitting on your perch, pecking at dry morsels rather than longing for the skies? Think about it.