Kathy and I were able to swing by the Everglades National Park a few weeks ago, near sundown. The wildlife were very active, in a preserve that is a haven for many types of birds, panthers, snakes, crocodiles, and alligators. As we were walking down one of the trails, we saw not only the beaty eyes of alligators in the adjoining canal but at least one that boldly ventured onto the trail. You can imagine the respect and right of way the many park-goers like ourselves gave this scaly reptile. I took this picture as three black vultures came boldly strolling up to the alligator. There were gasps and fearful looks from some bystanders, most fearing the worst for the birds. What do you think happened next?
It is very unpredictable. Alligators are known to attack vultures, as a search of You Tube would amply demonstrate. Vultures are known to attack alligators, too. One is a strong, ferocious predator. The other is a famous bird of prey, a scavenger who lives off of death and decay. What might have happened under different circumstances, where hunger or a perceived threat or territorialism prevailed, is unknown. Soon after the photo, however, the alligator lazily turned and retreated to the canal and the vultures returned to…whatever vultures do when they aren’t “vulturing.”
My imagination wandered. What was this confrontation about? Was this a game of “chicken”? Were the vultures thrill-seekers? Was the alligator full, bored, or something else? Given that most alligator-vulture disputes center around vying for the same entree, the likeliest explanation is that the alligator had killed something and the vultures wanted a postmortem piece of the action. They were likely brought together by death and devouring.
The Bible speaks of some who are like this, uniting for less than life-bringing reasons. Asaph condemns God’s people for associating with adulterers and consenting with thieves (Ps. 50:18). Some fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (cf. Eph. 5:11). Some, who should know better, give hearty approval to those who practice things worthy of death (Rom. 1:32). When you are with that companion or in that relationship, it is good to ask, “What brings us together?” If the answer involves sin, spiritual darkness, and the spiritually deadly, maybe it is find to find a new “partner”–and not a partner in “crime.”