Plankton and Nekton

Are you tired of being tossed around by an ever changing view of what’s supposed to be important?

Dividing the world into two groups has been a longstanding human activity. In 1891, a German biologist identified two groups of marine aquatic organisms: plankton and nekton. Plankton are passive creatures that are carried along by the water. All they can do is drift along with the currents and waves. Examples of plankton include microscopic animals and plants. Nekton are active swimmers that propel themselves through the water regardless of the direction of the currents, winds, and waves. Examples of nekton include fish, whales, and turtles.

Scientists no longer use this classification because the diversity of marine animals and plants is much more complex than anyone in the 19th century could have anticipated. One such complexity is that some organisms begin their life as plankton and then transition to nekton when they develop. These plankton-to-nekton animals are unable to swim when they are very small and young, but then as they mature and grow, they become nekton. Some examples include fish larvae, squid, and the man-o-war jellyfish.

When we were younger, all of us were spiritual plankton. We went along with the world’s values and judgments. Even in our youthful rebellion, we rebelled against what we were told to rebel against. But Jesus calls His disciples to spiritual maturity and to no longer strive for what most others say is precious and important (Romans 12). Being deceived by the world’s trickery is compared to being blown back-and-forth by the wind (Ephesians 4). When God’s people try to please both the world and our Lord, we are compared a boat tossed up-and-down by ocean waves (James 1). But as we grow and mature in our faith, we become spiritual nekton who, by God’s grace, effectively resist whatever circumstances and temptations might pull us away from achieving the virtuous characteristics of our Lord Jesus.

One way we can know we are on God’s narrow path to all the blessings He has promised is that we find ourselves disagreeing more and more about what or who we are told is important. Thankfully, God is not just leaving us alone to do the best we can and cheering us on from the sidelines. Our Heavenly Father provides enough grace for every day’s challenges. Along the way we will find a few others to encourage us and to be encouraged by us. When we intentionally and consistently pursue what God has revealed in His Word, we will be blessed with His peace, joy, and hope, and we will avoid the uncertainty and insecurity of following the crowd to chase the latest fad or trend.