Life in an Aquarium
What I’ve learned from being visible
When you look in an aquarium, you see variety. You see different colors. You see big, small, and everything in between. In an aquarium, you can mix lots of varieties together with a few exceptions. Some fish can bully other fish. These fish are simply not placed together. Yet, when fish are combined correctly, it’s a beautiful sight. Most people are drawn to the kaleidoscope of light and color in the room.
This is exactly what we need to be like.
Matthew 5:14-16 – 14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
When we came to work at Caribbean Mountain Academy (CMA), we knew we’d be living our lives under the noses of our students. What we didn’t realize was the depth of community we’d be joining, the multicolored, sometimes messy, fishbowl.
Only in this fishbowl, the rules are different. God doesn’t worry about keeping certain fish separate. If anything, he chooses to mix them together. Look at Jesus’ disciples.
Peter (fisherman, outspoken)
John (son of Zebedee, son of thunder)
James (son of Zebedee, son of thunder)
Andrew (brother of Peter, brought Peter to Jesus)
Philip (close friend of Andrew and Peter)
Thomas (doubted Jesus’ resurrection at first)
Matthew (a tax collector for Rome)
James (son of Alphaeus)
Simon the Zealot (hated tax collectors)
Judas Iscariot (betrayed Jesus for money)
These men were a fishbowl themselves. Jesus brought men together who, I can only guess, could have easily broken into cliques (using today’s terminology). Some of these men were related. Some were close friends, but some would have been enemies. Outside of the grace and redemption of Jesus Christ, a zealot and a tax collector for Rome would not have mixed. In fish terminology, one would have eaten the other one. Zealots were all about kicking out the Romans. Tax collectors worked for the Romans. On top of that, in bringing twelve men together from different vocations and social spheres, there must have been some personality clashes. Yet, Jesus brought these men together in an attractive mix.
1 Peter 2:12 Live such good (attractive) lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
That is what I call unity. Unity is not about everyone “getting along” or even about everyone agreeing. Unity is about putting aside our personality clashes, setting our foundation on Jesus Christ, and working together to be as “eye-catching” as possible. I’m not talking about putting in a coffee shop in a church or playing more videos to make a sermon more engaging. I’m talking about the work that happens in the Church through community with one another.
John 13 – 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Taking it a step further, we need to do more than simply “put aside our personality clashes.” If we stop being easily offended, if we put our identity in Jesus, if we strive to please Him, and if we stop worrying about what someone might be saying about us, we could learn so much. 1 Corinthians 4:3-4 – 3 “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” We need to be more concerned about what God thinks. He’s the highest judge of all, and what’s great is that He loves us.
Once we find our security and stability in Christ, we can learn from the other “fish” swimming around us. Proverbs 27:17 ESV “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
Just like in an aquarium, we are visible. I am more visible now than I have ever been in my life. Living in this fishbowl community has been one of the best and hardest experiences of my life. I’ve learned that God has created each of us with our own distinct color but that our tint grows in vibrancy when combined with one another. I’ve learned that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). I’ve learned that I need to be the most concerned about what Jesus thinks and then look and learn from my fellow “school” mates.
God is moving here at CMA. Is He moving in your community too? What is God doing in your life? Are you being challenged? Are you growing?
I’d love to pray for you. I’d love to hear what God is doing in your life. Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.