Our Christian pack is a family

Published 6:31 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2018

I’d always heard of the “alpha wolf,” but only recently did I read that their lines of authority are much more complicated.

Wolves in a pack are closely defined as alpha, beta, delta, gamma, pup and omega. I also never imagined there would be a level or group below a pup. I even took a test that said I was a delta wolf, the messenger between packs.

And then I decided to dig a little more and discovered the new research that found no signs of an alpha wolf or any of the other levels in the wild. The original study was done with wolves in captivity where they were forced to live together and fight for food and other resources. Imagine a study of families in a refugee camp?

The new research discovered that a male wolf meets a female wolf; they mate and raise their offspring together. So the “pack” in captivity is simply a “family” in the wild until their young leave the family to create a family of their own and are replaced by their younger brothers and sisters.

There are times when several families unite to take down abundant and/or larger game, but then they go their separate ways. The two messages from the new studies are that wolf behavior is more like a “family” than a “pack,” and wolves are more peaceful than we’ve ever imagined. That “wild pack of ravaging wolves” is a family trying to stay alive in the world where they live.

All this reminds me as we’re reading through the Bible, we’ve come to the transition from tribes and clans and families to kings.

Samuel warns the Israelites, “Now here is the king you chose; you asked for him, and now the Lord has given him to you. All will go well with you if you honor the Lord your God, serve him, listen to him, and obey his commands, and if you and your king follow him. But if you do not listen to the Lord but disobey his commands, he will be against you and your king. So then, stand where you are, and you will see the great thing which the Lord is going to do.” (1 Samuel 12)

Remember the wolves? In captivity they’re a pack, with an alpha and an omega. In the wild, where they are free, they’re a “family.”

Among humans, a king brings a new dynamic based, not on tribes and clans and families, but on levels of power with alphas at the top and omegas at the bottom and deltas to carry messages. Then in the New Testament, Jesus gives his life to set us free from the pack to re-create the tribes and clans and families.

And now we sing, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.”