We all have those moments we can reflect on and see life-changing events.  For most, it is things like their graduation, wedding day, the birth of their children, or their first great job offer.  Mine include all those things, but two others have significantly made a difference in how I look at life in general: the day I became a Christian, and the day I became a beekeeper.  I know.  How much different could these two things be from one another?  They are much more similar than I ever would have imagined.  It is so similar, in fact, that my experiences as a beekeeper have strengthened my faith and reliance on God more than any other individual activity I have been a part of outside of the church.

The complexity in the design of the honey bee can be attributed to nothing other than an amazing Designer, the God of all creation. On the sixth day of the world’s existence, God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind” (Genesis 1:24), and one small but extremely significant “creature,” the honey bee, was formed.  My entire life, I have loved science, specifically biology and zoology, and it has always pointed me toward intelligent design.  But nothing has fascinated me more than the honey bee.  This tiny little insect even led Charles Darwin, at one point, to say that the honey bee could be potentially fatal to his theory.  As interesting and compelling an investigation into the honey bee is, as an evolutionary theory breaker, the evidence of intelligent design as seen in the honey bee is another book I am working on.

To be a successful beekeeper, one must thoroughly understand the honey bee’s anatomy, physiology, and instincts.  My library contains an entire shelf full of books, periodicals, articles, and research papers that attempt to describe and explain this remarkable insect.  Then, due to my 25-plus years of Bible study and ministry, I began to see patterns between the complexity of a honey bee colony and God’s design for His church.  What started as just a few illustrations that began finding their way into my sermons evolved into a multifaceted picture of the various things God designed His church to be and do.  Watching the honey bees work together, protect each other, feed each other, communicate with each other, comfort each other, and even discipline each other, I began to see a pattern mirrored the colony of people that God formed in Acts chapter two on the Day of Pentecost.  Even the honey bees’ processes of pollination, honey production, and reproduction reflect the spiritual processes of evangelism, Bible study, and church growth.  It is God who instructed to “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise”(Proverbs 6:6). Well, I am no expert on ants. Still, I am excited to take you on this journey of exploring the mind-boggling honey bee and simultaneously discovering a successful design that might help us to “Bee the church” that God made us to be.

The first extraordinary characteristic I want to point out is how a honey bee colony is classified as a “superorganism.”  Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines superorganism as “an organized society that functions as an organic whole.”  One of the first things you learn as a beekeeper is that as important as every single bee in the colony is to its survival, because an individual bee cannot survive on its own.  Without every single bee doing its job, the whole colony suffers.  Inside the dark confines of a beehive there are rows upon rows of wax honeycomb, covered by 60,000 – 80,000 bees, where everyone is contributing to the success of the family.  Some are keeping the hive clean by dragging out debris caused by other workers.  Some are nurse bees, feeding the larvae (baby bees) who will become the next generation of workers.  Others have the responsibility of what we call mortician bees.  If an old or sick bee dies while in the hive, the mortician bees have the unpleasant job of removing their bodies to keep their home clean and sanitary.  Depending on the weather, various bees will spread out throughout the hive and begin to fan their wings which creates an efficient system of ventilation to either cool, heat, and even dehumidify the hive if needed.  The oldest bees are the foragers, who you see most often, collecting pollen, nectar, water, and even tree resin for use in the hive.  Then others are waiting in line for the foragers to return, where they will receive the nectar that was collected and then store it in the wax comb to be processed into honey.  Every bee has the ability to produce wax flakes on the underside of the abdomen, which is then used by architect bees to build the perfect, hexagonal honeycomb, where they store nectar, pollen, and where the queen also lays her eggs.  Every hive has guard bees whose job is to keep potential intruders out.  These are the ones you were stung by if you ventured too close to a beehive.  There are many other jobs taking place within the colony, but by now you may be thinking, I thought this was supposed to be about the church.  I am sure many of you can already see where I am going with this.

In the same sense, Jesus designed the church as a “superorganism.”  Christianity is not just about getting good at practicing our religion.  I may be good at doing one or a few things that God has blessed me with and expects of me, but one person being good at a few things doesn’t come close to accomplishing what God desires of His church to survive and be successful.  This spiritual superorganism God created comprises a body (colony) of people needed to fill in where I have weaknesses.

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5).

This is the family who can encourage and build you up and help you overcome some of your greatest challenges in life.

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).

“One another” is two words in English, but it’s only one word in Greek: ἀλλήλων (ah-LAY-loan). It’s used 100 times in 94 New Testament verses. 47 of those verses give instructions to the church, and 60% come from Paul.  Just a quick look at some of these instructions makes it obvious that Christ designed His church to be a superorganism that depends on everyone else around us to be successful in our Christian walk.  Another way of putting this is “unity.”

One-third of the one-another commands deal with the unity of the church.

  1. Be at peace with one another (Mk 9:50)
  2. Don’t grumble among one another (Jn 6:43)
  3. Be of the same mind with one another (Ro 12:16, 15:5)
  4. Accept one another (Ro 15:7)
  5. Wait for one another in worship (1 Co 11:33)
  6. Don’t bite, devour, and consume one another (Ga 5:15)
  7. Don’t boastfully challenge or envy one another (Ga 5:26).
  8. Gently, patiently tolerate one another (Ep 4:2)
  9. Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to one another (Ep 4:32)
  10. Bear with and forgive one another (Co 3:13)
  11. Seek good for one another, and don’t repay evil for evil (1 Th 5:15)
  12. Don’t complain against one another (Jas 4:11, 5:9)
  13. Confess sins to one another (Jas 5:16)

One-third of them instruct Christians to love one another.

  1. Love one another (Jn 13:34, 15:12, 17; Ro 13:8; 1 Th 3:12, 4:9; 1 Pe 1:22; 1 Jn 3:11, 4:7, 11; 2 Jn 5)
  2. Through love, serve one another (Ga 5:13)
  3. Tolerate one another in love (Ep 4:2)
  4. Greet one another with a kiss of love (1 Pe 5:14)
  5. Be devoted to one another in love (Ro 12:10)

About 15% stress an attitude of humility and deference among believers.

  1. Give preference to one another in honor (Ro 12:10)
  2. Regard one another as more important than yourselves (Ph 2:3)
  3. Serve one another (Ga 5:13)
  4. Wash one another’s feet (Jn 13:14)
  5. Don’t be haughty: be of the same mind (Ro 12:16)
  6. Be subject to one another (Ep 5:21)
  7. Clothe yourselves in humility toward one another (1 Pe 5:5)

Here are a few more:

  1. Do not judge one another, and don’t put a stumbling block in a brother’s way (Ro 14:13)
  2. Greet one another with a kiss (Ro 16:16; 1 Co 16:20; 2 Co 13:12)
  3. Husbands and wives: don’t deprive one another of physical intimacy (1 Co 7:5)
  4. Bear one another’s burdens (Ga 6:2)
  5. Speak truth to one another (Ep 4:25)
  6. Don’t lie to one another (Co 3:9)
  7. Comfort one another concerning the resurrection (1 Th 4:18)
  8. Encourage and build up one another (1 Th 5:11)
  9. Stimulate one another to love and do good deeds (He 10:24)
  10. Pray for one another (Jas 5:16)
  11. Be hospitable to one another (1 Pe 4:9)

Of course, Jesus and the apostles give many more instructions to the church; these “one another” passages are a good start, though. As you look at these passages, read them in context! These commands come from Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, and James, scattered across the New Testament. Don’t just stop at this list: dig into these passages to see what the author was talking about.

Just as a single honey bee cannot survive without all of its brothers and sisters doing their part, neither can the Lord’s church. Understanding what the Bible tells us concerning each of our roles in this community of believers opens up a whole new perspective of what life in the kingdom of Christ is supposed to look like.

Steve Schinnerer
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Steve Schinnerer was raised in the church in Scott City, KS where his father served as an elder for 25 years.  Steve attended Oklahoma Christian for one year where he met his wife, Jennifer, of Yukon, OK.  Steve and Jenni have four children: Ajay, Jagger, Liberty, and Jase, they also have 4 grandchildren. Jenni is a stay-at-home mom where she homeschools and is focused on raising her children in the Lord.

Steve and Jenni both attended Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver where they graduated: Steve with a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Theology, and Jenni with and Associates degree in Bible. 

Following Bear Valley, Steve and his family moved to Porter, OK where he served as their pulpit minister for six years, and then another six years as the pulpit minister for the Cherokee Hills church of Christ in Oklahoma City before coming to Cave Springs in the fall of 2013.

Steve and Jenni have a passion to teach the saving message of Jesus Christ and do so whether it be in their home congregation, at summer camps, gospel meetings, lectureships, or in the foreign mission field.  Steve has been able to preach in eight different countries around the world with most of his time abroad spent in Africa and Australia.  Steve and Jenni have recently been focusing on young families, trying to help strengthen marriages, encouraging parents to utilize Biblical discipline and training with their children and especially in helping men in their battle to become the husbands and fathers that God desires for them to be.