God is in Herd
“Cows are my passion.
What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a Swiss farm,
and live entirely surrounded by cows – and china.” – Charles Dickens
I can relate to Charles Dickens in one way. There is peace inside the herd. Herd animals have been taught by life’s experiences that things are better when you flock together. For animals this means that only those on the edges and those who wander off are vulnerable to predators. Being in the herd means strength in numbers. Being in the herd means there are more than just your eyes looking out to protect you. Being in the herd means protection against the coldest winter wind and help finding the water hole during the scorch of summer’s sun. Sure, you have to put up with the smells and crazy mooing of others, but for most animals let’s be honest. Being in the herd means life.
This is especially true for us as Christians. We as Christians have been taught by our experiences with God in this life that things are better when we grow together. I have found that I’m a better Christian when I gather together with other people on the path of salvation. I have found that I usually find myself in spiritual (and sometimes mental, emotional, and physical) danger when I wander off too far from God’s people. The edge is a place we all go to in our lives. And hopefully while we are there, we are bringing new folks into the flock, but it is not safe to always be on the fringe. Being in the Church means strength in the number of prayers being lifted up. Being in the Church means there are more than just your eyes looking out for you, loving you, helping you raise your children, helping you care for your parents. Being in the church means protection against the loneliest winters of our souls and help in returning to the font and table of our faith to find nourishment. Yes, we do have to put up with hypocrites, bad smells, loud mooing and the occasional crazy rants, but let’s be honest with ourselves. Being in Church means life.
Recently, at Charge Conference, Rev. Dr. Rob Colwell, quoting Adam Hamilton, asked our church leaders three questions. “Why Jesus, Why Church, Why Our Church?” I was so proud of our answers. We saw Jesus as Salvation: a place of refuge, a different future, hope and love, the one who can tell us who we truly are. We saw church as the people and place where we focus on the Kingdom and experience Jesus. We saw our Church as more than just a growing family. “Small enough to be a part of it, but big enough to be a group,” one person said. That sounds to me like a herd. Life is in the herd. God is in the herd.
“42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. 43 A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. 44 All the believers were united and shared everything. 45 They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. 46 Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. 47 They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.”