Today, I see America as a nation deeply divided in our beliefs, our values, and the solutions to our problems. We can see these sharp differences played out daily on the political front. It is clearly right verses left; Republicans verses Democrats; Conservatives verses Liberals. I believe the divisions are more intense than they have ever been in my lifetime.
Similarly, I see the Church of Jesus Christ divided in our beliefs, our values, and the solutions to our problems. We may even see families, marriages, and friends divided on these same points. In short: We believe what we believe, and we greatly value our beliefs.
Far be it for us to move from our position, even for the sake of benefiting the whole. Our stubbornness is deep seated—rooted in who we are and where we came from. None of us can easily make that humbling statement the “The Fonz” struggled with on the popular Happy Days TV show: “I was wwwrrrooong.”
Why? Our human nature will go to great lengths to keep from admitting we are wrong about anything, especially one of our “sacred cows.” The meaning of sacred cow is something too highly regarded to be open to criticism or curtailment. I am confident that we all have them—sacred cows, that is—and giving them up is not easy. In some cases it would take heaven and earth to move us off our cherished position.
If you don’t think you have a sacred cow, here are some controversial beliefs that exist among Christians. See if you agree or disagree:
~ Members of my denomination (fill in the blank) are the only ones going to heaven.
~ Water baptism is necessary for salvation.
~ Once saved, always saved.
~ The gifts of healing and miracles do not apply to the church today.
These statements, whether true or false, greatly divide the Church of Jesus Christ. Few of us are willing to consider, much less accept, opposing views. When our beliefs are too highly regarded to be open to criticism, they become a sacred cow.
Remember the rich young ruler who came to Jesus looking for the missing ingredient to life? He confidently told Jesus that he had kept the Ten Commandments since his youth.1 Although he had been perfect in keeping the Jewish laws, he had one thing too valuable to give up—his riches. When Jesus gave him a sure-fire solution to resolve the deep hunger in his heart, he sadly turned and walked away. Why? His riches were not open to curtailment. Keeping the Jewish laws was doable; killing his sacred cow wasn’t.
Jesus desires to control every part of us—to be Lord of all of my life and all of your life. That happens only when we give up our right to be in charge and yield to His Lordship. We must by an act of our God-given free will allow Him to have His way with us.
I fear that we mostly give lip service to statements like “I surrender all” or “Jesus, take me, mold me, use me, fill me,”2 to which Jesus willingly says “Yes!” The process begins, and He shows us which of our sacred cows has to die first. (Did I mention that we have many such cows?) To that, we sadly turn and walk away—our hearts still hungering for more of Him. We forfeit that precious and desired fellowship with Jesus for the thing(s) of earth that we cling to—be it riches, relationships, or beliefs.
Whatever He asks of us must be relinquished sooner or later. He knows our hearts and our allegiances, and He will not settle for partial loyalty. He must be Lord of all or not Lord at all.
Get ready to kill your sacred cow—that is, if you plan to go on with Jesus. ~ Janie Kellogg
2 The Potter’s Hand Lyrics, Hillsong