Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sacred Cows

It's really easy as humans to compartmentalize. What I mean is that we tend to file portions or aspects of our lives into comfortable little boxes that we take out and play with (or use, if you like) according to the label that's on them. 

We have a box we label 'work'. We have another one named 'church' and another called 'home.' But we have so many more. There's what we like to do in our leisure time, there's our political involvement or beliefs, there's what TV programs we watch, what music we listen to, what our lifestyle is, what loyalties we hold to any kind of sports or pop idol, and the list is endless. 

And these boxes have very little (if any) overlap. 
And this can be a problem. 

If we are believers, there's an important box called our relationship with God. Within it, there are a number of other boxes: the church part including doctrines we hold, people we associate with, styles of music and preaching, programs we espouse, and ministries we support. Then there's the devotional/relationship part which might include prayer and reading the Word. We like to keep things in their proper place ... and it's all usually very tidy .... until it's not. Until God starts doing something radical and taking those little religious boxes out and destroying them, and tearing down the walls between the relationship with God box and the other boxes in our lives. 

Photo "Big Brahman Bull Isolated On A
White Background"
of Gualberto107 at
I've watched people who love God actually destroy their testimony, ruin their Christian reputation, fighting and treating one another shamefully over which football team will win the Superbowl. Or what hockey team will win the Stanley cup. I've seen people irreparably damaged by political party affiliation, fighting over whether to vote this way or that way, trying to Christianize their reasons and causing deep wounds that are impossible to heal - over something as not-worth-arguing-about as politics. Or property. Or what foods to eat or not eat. Or whether to home-school, Christian-school, or public school their children.


In India, you can't go very far without seeing - or almost bumping into - cows. They're everywhere. The Indian people don't believe in harming the animals, and so cows are allowed to go anywhere they want, lie down anywhere they feel like it, and the Indians just go around them. The cow is a source of milk, butter, cheese, fuel (yes, they burn cow manure as fuel!), and some religious rituals or cultural customs in India, but they are not killed. Take away an Indian's civil rights but no, don't touch the cows. 

And in many ways, I see some believers acting that way about their own sacred cows: Yes God, I'll go to church but not during Downtown Abbey (or whatever the name of it is). Sure, Lord, I'll give my ten percent but don't ask me to not watch the playoffs (I'll just watch the game on my phone while I'm at church, how's that?) I'll even go to the church potluck but for goodness' sake, don't expect me to eat bread ... as a matter of fact, I'll go and I will try to convince people how unhealthy all this food they're eating is for them. WHILE they're eating it.

That defensiveness can even affect the things we do that we consider "of God." Once, when I remarked to someone that a certain popular book, used as a devotional aid at the time, was teaching heresy, that person pouted and asked me not to take that away from her. Not, "What things specifically don't line up with the scriptures?" but just a "Don't touch my sacred cow." 

Jesus came to make us free, to deliver us from bondage to our sacred cows. 

He came to take a sledgehammer to those boxes, those compartments in our lives that I spoke about earlier. His design for our lives is "open concept" - because to Him, all of life is sacred: whether it's home life or school life or work life or church life or hobby life or sports life or music life or fashion life or food life.... you get the idea. And if what He has done does not reach into that little corner we've been keeping just for ourselves, then it is not so much a reflection on His power as it is a commentary on how very little we appreciate all that He has freely given to us out of the abundance of His love!

I've heard it said that if Jesus is not Lord OF ALL then He is not Lord AT ALL. There is a sense in which this may well be true. However, I'm more inclined to believe that our entire Christian existence is a journey ... a journey toward trust... based on His love for us. The more we realize how real and deep that love is, the more we trust Him. The more we trust Him, the more we relinquish to Him; the more we relinquish to Him, the more He looks after our needs and we realize the depth of His love and care for us; the more He lovingly looks after our needs, the more we trust Him.

It doesn't have to get more complicated than that.

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