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Become a bee?

December 2009

Scientists can do such amazing things with genetic change nowadays, imagine the following scenario. You know how well the communication between honeybees is now understood: a series of leg movements, for example, shows what food is available, how far away and in which direction. We know also the current danger of viruses killing off our honeybee population, which would be disastrous for crop pollination and our own food supplies.

Now – imagine our discovering a way of saving the bees which required their knowing about it and responding, just as it becomes possible to inject a human with bee genes so that the person retains that saving knowledge and could be given the body of a bee (not very attractive!).

I wonder if any human would love the bee race enough, to undergo such genetic modification? To be made a bee, while retaining that human knowledge, so as to tell the bees how they could be saved.

Such a person would have to give up a very great deal: human love and length of life, in fact nearly all that makes us human.

In this month which includes Christmas I’m sure you have seen where this is taking us, but let us say it anyway. At the first Christmas the almighty, eternal Maker of the heavens and the earth humbled himself to be made human so as to tell us the way to be saved. In the remarkable words of the Shorter Catechism Answer no. 21:

“The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ who, being the eternal Son of God, became man and so was, and continues to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever.”

You know, one of the things I can still hardly cope with in that great statement is the words ‘and continues to be … for ever’

It would be one thing to become a bee for a day, but quite another to remain a bee for ever. It is one thing to put on a diving suit and enter dark depths in order to rescue some treasure you value; it would be quite another if it involved having the diving suit as your body for ever after.

We can go further in our reverent wonder. The unattractiveness of a creature man becoming a creature bee to save their race, is but a little thing compared with the Creator becoming a creature. Bees and humans are creatures with similar genes if rather different bodies; God and man are simply different categories.

We must go further still. For our Lord Jesus the project involved shameful public execution, bearing our sins in his body on the Cross to bring us to God. One simple step for mankind; but a terrible bridge-building operation for Jesus. It continues: he remains a scarred man for ever. When we kneel before the throne of God in heaven and worship him for our redemption, our dear elder brother the man Christ Jesus will be at the centre of that throne of God. He has submitted Himself eternally in order to save us from the consequences of our guilt!

The Christmas hymn puts it like this:

BEHOLD, the great Creator makes
Himself a house of clay:
a robe of human flesh He takes
which He will wear for aye.

Join then, all hearts that are not stone,
and all our voices prove,
to celebrate this Holy One,
the God of peace and love

This Christmas, O come, let us adore Him.

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