Time passes and a second man washes ashore. Ecstatic he is no longer alone, the first man shares all his knowledge on how to live. The second man appreciates the first man's experience, but eventually begins to raise questions. What about the crabs in the atoll surrounding the island? Wouldn't they be a good source of food? The first man quickly dismisses these suggestions. He has lived for years on coconuts. Catching crabs would be difficult – it would involve swimming and facing many dangers in the reef. Crabs would pinch. Crabs would require cooking. Crabs wouldn't have the familiar taste of home. Crabs were not a good idea; coconuts were. The second man accepts the first man's position – crabs would be more difficult than coconuts.
More time passes and a third man washes ashore. The storm and the waves have not been kind to him. He is bruised, battered, paralyzed, and unable to care for himself. The first and second man want to care for him and collect extra coconuts so the third man can eat. But the third man cannot stomach coconut – each time he eats, he vomits it up in minutes. The first man attempts to serve the third man coconut in a variety of ways, to no avail. The third man becomes sicker and weaker.
Unable to stand the third man's hopeless state, the second man resolves to do something. He rises early before the other men wake and enters the water. As he swims, his eyes dart constantly, looking for sharks. He scrapes his palms and knees climbing the atoll – but there, in the shallow places are the crabs. They move quickly and are difficult to catch. The second man falls many times and is bruised, cut and pinched. He isn't as good at catching crabs as the first man is at collecting coconuts. Yet he collects some and swims back to shore, salt water stinging his open wounds. The second man struggles to light a fire and begins to cook. The light and aroma awaken the third man. The second man cracks open the shells and feeds the third man, who eats and begins to gain health and strength.
Every few days thereafter, the second man makes the journey to capture crabs. Trapped by what is easy, comfortable, and familiar, the first man watches from shore and wrestles in his heart. Why can't the third man just learn to eat coconut? Why does he need something different? The first man wonders what to do. Should he continue eating coconut apart from the other men? Or should he join the second man in his work to care for the third man?
This battle wages in each of our hearts. We have been saved from the storm of this world and washed to the shore of salvation by the grace of God. His Word is the food we need to live. Will we as individuals, and as the Church, continue to offer God's Word in ways we find easy, comfortable, and familiar? Or will we continually take challenging, uncomfortable risks to offer God's life-giving Word in ways others can receive it?
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death
-even death on a cross!”