It was a glorious, spectacular spring day and I was driving to a church to speak on Sunday morning. I had a couple of hours drive ahead of me and as I started out I saw some buzzards. There were some that were circling around the way they do. I think they found some food and were just keeping an eye on it, but there were some others that were kind of dipping and diving and maybe coming in to eat. I don’t know. Altogether there must have been twenty or thirty in this gathering, so much so that it really got my attention. I watched them as they circled around and I went motoring on. I had not gone but a few miles when I saw a large gathering of buzzards just over the roadway where I was traveling. They seemed to be carrying on the same activity as the ones near my house. I thought that was really interesting.
As I drove on, I kept seeing buzzards on the way. Three or four, ten or twelve, sometimes another large group of them. I began to think and add up how many I had seen in probably a 30-mile stretch. It was easily well over a hundred, and on the rest of the drive to the church I saw buzzards all the way. Buzzards by the scores. By the time I got where I was going I had seen hundreds of buzzards. Now when you contrast that with other days that I may drive that far or further and never see the first buzzard, you wonder what in the world they are up to and why there are so many out sailing around through the beautiful skies on that spring morning.
Simply because I was seeing so many buzzards all morning, I began to think what beautiful creatures they actually are. I saw that as someone who is not particularly fond of buzzards. If you didn’t know what they did and if you didn’t know so much about them, you would probably think they were marvelous, majestic birds because they are. What does all of that have to do with the title of this article, “Baptist Buzzards?” More than you might think, because I began to process thoughts about the diversity among the people of God. The Apostle Paul used that beautiful imagery to say we’re all a part of the body of Christ. Some are hands and some are feet. Some might be an ear or a nose (and some have suggested there are a few heels). In wonderful reality there are a lot of different pieces and parts to the Kingdom work, some of which are praised and highlighted and others neglected and seldom noticed. Like our buzzard friends, they are probably those that we tend not to notice the value and the significance of who they are and what they do. Let me show you what I mean.
Buzzards are specifically made to do what they do. They clean up messes. A group of them can converge on a carcass and pick it clean and keep all the rest of us from having to deal with or dispose of what is nothing more than a rotten mess. It could be an old opossum that got hit crossing the road or a stockyard animal that passed away out in a pasture. They show up and do what you and I may not want to do but they were made for such a time as this. That’s a wonderful thing and to be fair and honest with all of us, there are people that God uses and has blessed with the ability and the capability to clean up some of the messes that are around all of us. I, for one, am appreciative of those folks who are willing to do and capable of doing things that the rest of us might not even want to get around. I have known of occasions when a church was having difficulty and maybe a lot of bad things were happening and people were criticizing and attacking each other. The tendency with a lot of folks is just to drop out of church and get as far away as they can from the problem and the smell, but then there are those folks who have gifts that can only come from God to bring things back together and get rid of the bad things and enable life not to be poisoned or putrefied by the event. They would not appreciate being called a Baptist Buzzard but they are good at what they do.
The second thing is that they love what they do. Buzzards not only are made for that, they love doing it. When a group of them show up around a carcass, if you are close enough to just observe you will see they love getting in there and participating so much that they’ll push some of the others aside to get there. They love it. Now whatever gift God has given you — and you may not be one of the Baptist Buzzards — but you may have another spiritual gift that when you teach or sing or minister in some unique way or some routine way, your life lights up and everyone can see you really enjoy serving the Lord in the way that He made you to. I love to see people serving the Lord, energized by the joy of doing that for which God has created them. I love to hear a singer sing who loves to sing or a preacher preach who loves to preach. There is a holy glow around people who serve the Lord that way. It is a joy to have a church that is filled with diverse people who love to serve the Lord.
A final thought that I would give you about these Baptist Buzzards is that whether you’ve thought about it or not, the world is a better place because of them. That, my friends, is a good thing. You and I can celebrate that God makes them and us the creatures that we are in His economy. I have watched as people who love the Lord and love His church serve so faithfully in areas of responsibility that I would just hate to have to do all that. I watch as ladies prepare and put out food at some dinner on the ground and everything is hot and ready and delicious and they just keep it all moving along and looking good. I couldn’t do that. I’ve watched through the years as men step up to help the ladies, to help put those black bags down in the garbage cans and people come throwing their plates away and they’ll tie it up and take them off and put another bag in there and keep everything in order and probably nobody in the entire event comes by and says, “Thank you so much for doing that,” for without them, oh what a mess would be there.
I’ve watched as a kid comes through and has too much drink in his glass and tries to carry a plate and a too-full glass at the same time and spills a lot of it on the floor and here comes someone who was not elected to a position and doesn’t get any recognition or appreciation and takes a rag or a mop and cleans it up and off they go. On and on I have seen these precious, saintly buzzards doing their great work with very little recognition or appreciation.
I would not recommend that anyone reading this article go to church and call any man (or especially a lady) a buzzard, but just watch and see if your life is not encouraged, blessed, and better off because of their wonderful service.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.