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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Holy Cows : A Meditation

     Hundreds of holy cows used to wander the villages of India, devouring the food of hungry peasants, yet they were defended with fervour. The thought of butchering them to provide food for the hungry was as appalling as the burden of maintaining them, so they lumbered through the land, dominating the scene by their enormous intrusive presence.
     Christians often fill their heads with holy cows. Herds of pseudo-sacred notions lumber through their thought processes and tear away at their resources. They command such a strange superstitious awe that people fail to chase them away, trying to pretend that they never notice them. But cows are hard to hide ― even holy ones ― unless you are actually looking for them. Then you find that they have the peculiar property of vanishing from view
     A few years ago, whilst attending a meeting in Shrewsbury, one of the items that came up was regarding a church in South Wales that wanted to modernise their buildings, and would be asking the Connexion for half a million pounds to enable them to carry out their plans. It’s probable that this money would be used, if it should be approved, to enable a building no longer suited for its purpose to become more efficient. However, what it will most probably fail to do is create a new environment that will adequately fulfil the task that it should be doing.
     Like many congregations today, I'm sure that the congregation of this particular church sees it as their primary duty to ensure the salvation of their building for eternity ― or at least for another hundred years or more! This is commendable in a museum. Indeed the new Tate Modern Gallery has been constructed within the shell of a disused power station at a cost of some £l34 million! Yet the purpose of the church is to declare a concern for the salvation of souls, not buildings. Buildings, however beautiful they might be, are little more than places where God's people can congregate for worship and fellowship, and move out from to fulfil the Great Commission of spreading Christ’s message of salvation. To put the building first denies the essence of Christ's headship. The building becomes, in effect, a holy cow.
     All too often the significance and relevance of Jesus Christ is hindered in today's world because of the religious restraints that many people try to contain Him within. We live in an age of instant wealth for many. Millionaires are made on television quiz shows, and weekly during the lottery draws. Banks turn people into multi-millionaires on the basis of profits that disgust most people; those in positions of power have been corrupted by the lust for more and more wealth no matter how they achieve it. Yet still we hear, see or read the news reports of mass poverty and deprivation in many parts of the world. ‘The poor will always be with us,’ Jesus said, but today's Society has turned them into holy cows too. People have become so used to the poor being there that they have learned to ignore them, or at least to enjoy their wealth despite them. There are huge food shortages in some parts of the world, and huge surpluses in others If only it was possible to milk the holy cows of their religious status. Then finally we would be able to use them to feed the hungry souls with the real food of righteousness; the real message of salvation; the message that Christ brought to the world. Beautifully simple, ‘Repent of your sins, believe in Me as the Son of God, sacrificed for you, and you will see salvation.’
 Think about it and live it every day.

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