If you were to go to a zoo today you'd see some of the animals in enclosures with paths around the perimeters because they will constantly pace or walk around. Most people will look at this and find it kinda' neat and handy as the animals will often walk past the viewing windows repeatedly, getting up nice and close for everyone to see.
But what we don't realize is that these behaviors are signs that the animals are not okay.
Why do tigers pace at the zoo?
Tigers, like all captive animals, can tend to pace back and forth as a way of coping with the stress of captivity. Due to stress, captive wild cats breed poorly, which is why it is hard to maintain population levels in zoos and also why zoos are bad because the cats are sometimes imported from the wild.
What is the meaning of Zoochosis?
Zoochosis is the term used to describe the stereotypical behaviour of animals in captivity. Stereotypic behaviour is defined as a repetitive, invariant behaviour pattern with no obvious goal or function.
Why do animals pace in the zoo?
Being in a small enclosure with little stimulation leave the animals distressed. Wild animals spend the majority of their time hunting and stalking prey over large distances. Being fed by zookeepers removes this normal activity. The animal has a natural drive to roam and hunt.
Why does an elephant rock back and forth?
When they are in captivity this is a sign of psychosis. This is brought on because they are not in their natural habitat and their needs are not being met. Mostly because of the lack of space to roam.
Taking a living organism out of its natural environment puts it under stress that causes it to function abnormally.
"The church" God speaks of in the Bible is a living organism, with a natural environment God intended for it. Its members are anyone anywhere in the world who loves Jesus, and we get an idea of our natural environment from how the early church lived in the New Testament.
The natural environment for "the church" is really...in the wild. Outside. Free. Walking among the people in the world, yet not walking 'like' them.
But over the last few hundred years, as mankind has moved indoors, just as we've snatched animals from the wild and caged them for our convenience, we've done the same thing to the church. The church has been snatched from the wild, even from infancy, and put in a nice clean, convenient, climate-controlled, structured, predictable cage we call a church building.
And at this point in history we fail to see how the behavior of the body is indicative of it being "not okay."
We have come to think it's normal to sign on the dotted line that we're a "card-carrying-member of X church." We've come to think it's normal to go to this building weekly doing the same things each week, each year, giving our money, singing the songs, and following the program. But a tiger pacing back and forth past a viewing window at the zoo is behaving abnormally, and so are we, because no matter how large, how new, how fancy, how full of nice people and nice programs the cage is - it is still a cage.
The Body of Christ which once had the reputation for being the people who stayed behind when everyone fled a plague...is now posting about their rights to health care on Facebook. We "pace back and forth." We engage in "repetitive, invariant behaviour patterns with no obvious goal or function..." sitting in the same pews/seats, singing the same praise and worship songs, attending the same Sunday School classes, planning the same church socials and festivals, planning the same mission trips, and doing the same programs week-after-week, month-after-month, year after year, attending our special "services", etc...
And the end result is we "reproduce poorly."
Oh...our church memberships grow...sure...but the actual Body of Christ? Do we see the world becoming more Christ-like with time's passing, or does the world seem to be spiraling down a godless drain?
We've taken "the church" out of its natural environment and put it in a nice, neat, convenient, climate-controlled cage...and we can't even see it. We've no reference point as to what "the church" looks like in its natural environment that we can't even see how sick the church really is.
Building/planting more churches won't grow the body of Christ.
Going on more mission trips won't grow the body of Christ.
Singing more worship songs, and adding more church programs won't grow the body of Christ.
The world looks at the church and can see us pacing and engaging in our repetitive behaviors from the outside of our cages/churches. They see us as a novelty, but nothing more because we are not demonstrating what the church...what Christ...is really like from inside our cages/churches.
Set the church free.
It was, after all, for freedom that Christ set us free.
Until we get out of our buildings...out of our routines, schedules, structures, and services...we're only wild animals trapped in a zoo cage pacing around...
Get out of the building.