It appears that organisms can’t exist in isolation. Everywhere they are found, even in the most extreme environments, we don’t find just one type of organism; we find interacting organisms living together and in many cases benefiting each other.
For example, on barren rocks are lichens made of fungi and algae. Fungi extract water from the air and keep the algae moist and algae harness energy from the sun and feed the fungi. One of the better known examples of this community relationship in lichens can be found in the icy cold regions of the Arctic. Reindeer lichen grows on rocks and does not need any soil. It is thick compared to most lichens. Its called reindeer lichen because reindeer (also known as caribou) feed heavily on it during the long cold winters. Several other Arctic animals will browse on the reindeer lichen and burrowing mammals like to use it to provide a warm soft lining to their underground homes.
In the soil, fungi live in the roots of trees. They form structures called mycorrhizae. The association of the mycorrhizae and the tree roots are beneficial to both the fungi and trees. The trees supply the fungi with carbohydrates and other nutritional needs. In turn, the fungi mycorrhizae increases the surface area of the roots which allows for greater uptake of water and minerals to the trees. This relationship is so important to healthy tree growth that many nurseries and tree farms maintain a fungi mycorrhizae population in their planting soils.
In the sea, many corals have an association with certain algae and bacteria. The symbiotic relationship between the coral and the algae/bacteria is also critical to the health of the coral. The algae and bacteria are collectively known as zooxanthellae. They can be found in the coral’s mucus secretion, in the coral’s tissue and even in their calcium carbonate skeletons. The bacteria benefit the coral by fixing nitrogen (converting it into a useful form of nitrogen) and in breaking down the coral’s waste products. The bacteria also benefit the algae by returning necessary nutrients to the algae which use them for photosynthesis. The bacteria also produce antibiotics that help ward off other harmful microbes and diseases. The algae produce food energy for the coral through photosynthesis. In return, the coral provides a safe home for both the bacteria and algae.
A similar cooperation takes place in our bodies. Our digestive tract contains hundreds of millions of bacteria that help us digest many of the foods we eat. When a baby is first born, its digestive tract contains little if any bacteria. As they begin to feed, they start to build up populations of various bacteria which will allow them to eat more and more different foods as they grow. The types of bacteria depend on what foods and drinks the baby receives. This relationship between humans and the bacteria in their digestive tract is very important. For example, when you get sick with something like the flu and run a high temperature, many bacteria are killed off. If you try to eat regular foods at this time, you will often find yourself getting nauseous and end up vomiting which is partially due to the decreased amount of the right bacteria in the stomach. This gave rise to an old saying that goes: Feed a cold, starve a fever. This is why when you are this sick that you need to eat foods that are easier to break down and digest.
Around the world, plants in the ocean and on land produce oxygen that animals need. Animals release carbon dioxide that plants need. Plants make food and other carbon compounds from raw materials that animals need. When animals die, their bodies decay and breakdown, returning vital nutrients to the soil that are used by the plants.
When we read the Creation account in Genesis 1, we see that God created plants and animals in communities. When God made Adam from the dust of the ground, He placed him in the Garden of Eden. The very word ‘garden’ refers to a community of plants and animals. Wherever you find plants, you will find animals, as when God brought a number of animals to Adam to name, while he was in the Garden.
Cooperative relationships, cycles of provision, communities of organisms, a complex interwoven web of life where every organism has a place and a function in a larger whole.
The value of the individual and the necessity of community – these are beautiful manifestations of a triune creator God, three persons in one.
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6
by Joel Beeke and Heidi Boorsma
Using the alphabet as a guide, this book provides 26 devotional meditations for young children (ages 49), based on Bible texts that children can easily memorize. Gods Alphabet for Life stresses that, like adults, children must be born again, come by faith and repentance to the Lord Jesus Christ, and live lives of thankfulness to God for His great salvation.
Here is a great resource for parents wondering where to start with training their children. I highly recommend Gods Alphabet for Life as an excellent tool for communicating truth your children will grow into and never outgrow. Dr. Tedd Tripp (author, Shepherding a Child’s Heart)