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Alex Urban: The Christian life reflected in a beehive

As a novice beekeeper I have spent a copious amount of time tending to my honey bees throughout my second season of keeping a small apiary. There is always much work to be done when taking care of hives, from the occasional syrup feeding to making sure pests have not robbed my bees of their precious honey. However, labors of love are usually reserved for during the week so I can rest come Saturday and Sunday. Nevertheless these tasks are never quite out of mind. However, Sunday brings another "labor of love," weekly church service at Aldersgate United Methodist.

My Christian way of life when compared to my beekeeping escapades can only be described as deeply rooted yet by no means mature, even though I have spent my fair share of time in church pews, choir robes, and Bible studies. Over the years I have learned the basics of my faith and tried to hone in on how to put these applications into practice in everyday life, from "loving my neighbor as myself," serving only my Master, being my brother's keeper, doing good works to reflect my faith, and diligently doing my Christian duty of doing what my Savior desires me to do and spread the Gospel. Yet even though these concepts have been easy for some of my Christian brethren, I will be candid and say that I have had quite some difficulty in capitalizing on all of these duties as adequately as I should.

I find I'm always making explanations for myself for not being able to fulfill my ecclesiastical duties. I have often found myself complacent in my faith trying to justify my shortcomings and sinful ways through trivial excuses. I have tried to look for a sinless, yet very tangible role model to base my Christian life upon; however, I realized very soon I wouldn't find an individual in this world 100 percent suitable. Thus, I turned my attentions elsewhere -- to the minute creatures that occupied my spare time, my bees. One evening as I tended to my hives my mind wandered from my current task to how I should be living my life as a Christian. I was in awe by the answer the Lord had provided - it was literally right in front of me buzzing around. My hive was but a microcosm of how people should be living for their Lord.

When I compared Christian living to my beehive I realized that the queen bee could be seen as a parallel to Christ. It is the queen that literally and figuratively makes a hive, just like Christ is at the root of a Christian's life. Without a queen the hive falls apart and eventually dies if it doesn't have a queen re-established. The queen is the rock of the hive just like Christ is, or rather, should be the rock of a Christian's life. In addition, it is the queen that gives life to the hive as it is the only bee that produces new worker and drone bees that are vital to a healthy hive to be rejuvenated consistently. Just like the one queen in a hive there is but one God that rejuvenates His people to maintain and continue to have a healthy Christian life. Without Christ in one's heart life becomes void and empty, just like a hive becomes empty and void of life if it is without a queen.

The other bees, the workers and drones, are vital to the hive as well. It is the duty of these bees to serve the queen unceasingly. The simple adage of "busy as a bee" exemplifies this. These bees are "Never ... lacking in zeal, but keep [their] spiritual fervor, serving the[ir] Lord," their queen. These insects truly subscribe to what Romans 12:11 says in their own way and give us "higher beings" a good example of how we should serve our Lord. These creatures are so zealous and realize that service to their queen is paramount to their being that they are willing and happy to fight and die to protect the hive with its queen -- as after a bee stings an "enemy" it dies. Perhaps we as Christians should be willing to face Satan and Christ's "enemies" with the same content nature as our Apis friends.

Hundreds of thousands of worker bees desire nothing more than to serve their queen, and work for the common good for the survival of the hive. Once again bees serve as a perfect example.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!"

Ecclesiates 4:9-10 is adhered to by bees strictly as if one bee falls in the "good fight" there are others to take up the torch. If Christ's church is to survive, people cannot be afraid to fall, in addition, there must be another to lift up his fellow Christian. Bees do not have biases toward their fellow bees as they realize they are fighting the same fight. We too as Christians need to realize, regardless of domination, that we must "finish the race" for Christ as Paul instructs Timothy.

Even though the queen is vital to the hive just like Christ is imperative for the church, there is more to a hive than just the queen, just as there is more to the church than just Christ. As the Good Shepard needs sheep similar to a hive needs workers. Just as Ephesians 2:20-21 states "Christ Jesus himself [is] the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure [the church], being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord." It takes all Christians to assist in growing the holy temple just like it takes all bees to grow the hive.

It is my opinion the Lord has given us His Word in the Bible for us to read and be assured of his promises, but He has also designed the world around us to reflect that He desires of us in a more palpable way. One such divinely inspired model can be seen in wax and honey-laden hives. So next time you see a bee buzzing about the beautiful begonias, wonder if it's a sign to reexamine oneself.

Urban is from Sissonville and attends West Virginia University majoring in history and geography.


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