How To Hug A Porcupine

Posted by Scott Lowther on

Romans 12:18 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Dear CBC Family,

A gathering of fish together is called a school. A group of sheep is called a flock. An assembly of cattle is called a herd. We've got a pack of wolves, a gaggle of geese and a colony of ants, but we don't ever refer to a group of porcupines, because porcupines are unsocial animals. Their two rules for interactions, withdraw or attack, make strong relationships nearly impossible for them.

Porcupines spend most of their time alone. They don’t seem to have need for getting together with their own kind. They are shy and when difficulty comes they either run away or stick out those sharp quills and poke whatever is around them.

When a porcupine sticks one of those quills into an enemy, the body heat of the victim causes the quill to expand and it becomes firmly embedded in the wound. The wound easily gets infected and can cause death if not attended to properly.

It probably goes without saying, but porcupines are not regarded as lovable, huggable animals. The scientific word for 'porcupine' literally means is ''the irritable back.'' That is an understatement!

With their “irritable back personality”, porcupines usually handle relationships in one of two ways: Withdraw or attack. When they encounter people or other animals, they either head up a tree or they attack you with their quills. That makes relationship building pretty difficult for porcupines, thus the solitary nature of these animals.

Withdrawing and lashing out at others seems to describe some in the church of Jesus Christ doesn’t it? They can be just like our friend the porcupine.

After many years of pastoral ministry, I have found that probably 80% of the problems I deal with in the church are not primarily theological or doctrinal, but relational. When it comes to dealing with other people in the body of Christ, many tend to either withdraw or attack. Something happens they don't like or don't understand? Poof, some people just disappear and you never see them again. Others create drama and difficulty as they wave barbed quills around and injure everyone who tries to help them. Withdraw or attack is the standard operating procedure for church porcupines.

Perhaps these folks are just misunderstood or maybe no one knows how to deal with them? Whatever the case, this is not how God desires things should be with His children. God has a name for His children as they come together. He calls them the church! In a church there is a single family, made up of all sorts of people, but one thing must be true of them if new life is present…… that is they will be better together than apart. That is one of the reasons Jesus died, to make unity with all His people, even the porcupines!

This week, as we move up one verse in Romans 6, we will see the true freedom and transformation of Christ’s slaves. I called the sermon “How a porcupine becomes a teddy bear.” Are you a little prickly, too solitary or having a tough time fitting in? Then come and find out how the Holy Spirit knits us together into His family of grace called the church. Bring a porcupine and see what God can do. Perhaps you can leave the gloves behind.


Pastor Scott