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Portuguese Man O' War

February 22, 2020
by Rod Marshall   —   Audio controls are below the devotional to listen to this devotional or to hymn music while you read

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 – For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (ESV)

The Portuguese Man o' War is made up of millions of polyps called zooids. These zooids work together to function as a single organism. They differentiate so that some become dedicated to stinging, catching, defence, digestion, or reproduction. They are all mutually dependent upon one another, but essentially, they are all still individual polyps with no central controlling brain. They have highways of connectivity that communicate one region of cells to another to pass on information and nutrients so that they function for the benefit of all. Collectively, they work all for one and one for all.

It made me think about how Paul describes the church as the body of Christ: we are all individual members of one body. In Revelation, Jesus calls the church His bride — no matter the denominational emphases, distinctiveness, or peculiarities. We are called to share Jesus as the only begotten Son of the Father, part of the Trinity, who died to set His followers free from condemnation and to open the way to salvation. We all share in our expectant hope of Jesus with us via the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Unlike the church, as a body having different parts and being one with a common purpose, polyps have the added advantage, as they work together, that they do not have egos, suspicions, or temptations to deal with, that undermine the work for the common good. Zooids literally sink or swim together.

On the up side, we have what the polyps do not: the presence of Jesus who shines His light into our lives via the Holy Spirit and enables what we cannot do by ourselves: to bring Jesus.

So, despite our failings, we can function as a unit of the kingdom of God through the inspiration and grace that is found in trusting Jesus to work this out.

Jesus' call is simple: Come! Just as you are, warts and all, individuals, families, groups, nations: Come to Me! He will sort out the rest as we go forward. We can be the light of Jesus working where we are, in and through the local church. Yes, our nice, ordered existence may well be messed up in the process. Change always is messy, but that is how Jesus grows our faith.

Let us remember our own journey to find Jesus, and be prepared to welcome those around us, who are also on the journey, to find the light of Christ.

Prayer: Lord, forgive our sins and purify our hearts and minds. Remind us to look to You and to be sensitive to what You are asking of us. Fill our hearts and lives with love, so that it creates a natural overflowing of Your love through our lives in giving of ourselves one for all — not just in the giving of physical gifts that last only for the moment, but also so that Your kingdom flourishes, in Jesus' name. Amen.


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About the author:

Rod Marshall <roderickmarshall@yahoo.com>
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.


    Great devotion, Rod.


    Rod, what is a Portuguese Man o’ War??


    Thanks, Rod. Excellent comparison and prompt for our lives.


    Thank you, Rod, for this reminder that we work best together. Blessings.


    Thank you for acting on your inspiration today, Rod. Blessings on your journey.


    Roderick Marshall:
    Thank you for a very helpful devotion,
    Keep writing.


    Rod,
    I will always remember this image of our connectedness to the body of Christ. Thank you.


    Thank you Rod!!
    I liked your submission for today’s devotion.
    It opens my eyes to somethings other than ourselves to work together in his kingdom.
    (Quebec)


    Hi Rod:
    It was so good to read your message this morning. Thank you for your very wise words. It so very up-lifting.
    I am a visual thinker. When you talk about the Portuguese Man-of-war, I believe that’s exactly how a church should work with all our different gifts.
    May our Good Lord continue to bless you and your family.


    Rod, you’ve done it again with power and how I wish every Christian could read. My precious Daddy was a Pastor in a denomination that had revivals. I remember how they all spent most of the time preaching against the other churches whose theology was so wrong. When I was a teen, I told Daddy that I could not accept what I was hearing about losing my salvation and having to go to the altar to get saved again, and again. I assured him that no one could ever take what was mine away. He didn’t say anything until I was through and he very sweetly said, “Honey, I hope you are right.”
    As he got older and had opportunities to speak in other churches for an organizational group and learned understand the Lord was in other denominations. I was so happy that I had that talk with him. You brought that memory to light and I thank you so much.
    (California)


    I want you to know that I enjoy reading your contributions. They give me a lift. I am sure they help others as much as they help me. I am almost 97 years old and was stationed in Britain and have returned for visits to England and Scotland, but my travels have ended, but I have wonderful memories.

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