Doves and Pigeons

“Pigeons and doves share certain features which is why there is no strict division between them.” (from the wonderfully titled pigeonpedia.com)

What is the difference between a dove and a pigeon? It seems a dove by any other name would be a pigeon. But, honestly, does a pigeon smell as sweet as a dove? Doves descend from heaven like the spirit of God. But when a pigeon descends it is altogether different!

The name Christian has also descended in reputation. Some may point out that Jesus said the world would hate us (Mt 10:22, today’s gospel reading**). But in that verse the hate arises because we are a part of Jesus. Today our declining reputation is not about Jesus, instead it is the difference between doves and pigeons.

“Be as innocent as doves.” — Jesus, Matthew 10:16

Scientifically doves and pigeons may be hard to discern. In their make up they come from the same family of birds, but it is their actions that separate them.

When Jesus calls us to be doves, he does not picture a huddled mass of birds, watching to swoop in and grab what they want. Jesus pictures the birds in the temple. Ready to be sacrificed. Ready to bring others God’s forgiveness.

As Jesus says, we are not “above our teacher” (v24), but we may “become like our teacher” (v25). Like Jesus, like doves, we take up our cross to sacrifice (v38).

When we live as doves the Christian reputation (and impact) will rise. Rather than pigeons targeting our enemies’ heads, we will be known as ones who bring the world to God.


** Our church is reading a chapter of gospel each day as we move towards Easter (Resolve 2021). Today’s reading was Matthew 10 — a challenging chapter and it became the basis for these thoughts.

2 thoughts on “Doves and Pigeons

  1. I never linked the Dove comment from Jesus to the doves used in sacrifices. “Ready to be sacrificed. Ready to bring others God’s forgiveness.” Great insight!

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