Every now and then I enjoy a great steak, be it a New York Strip cut or a Filet Mignon. I also enjoy a great burger too. I’m thinking about a good Five Guys burger or one from Fuddruckers or Red Robin. I suppose you enjoy a good steak or burger every now and then as well.
Do you ever think about where that beef comes from? Of course not. And neither do I. But so that we both understand, it came from a cow. It came from some cow that was delivered to a slaughter house and then shipped to that restaurant where we satisfied our appetite.
What does that matter to you or I? It doesn’t because it wasn’t our cow. But had it been our cow…then it would have been sacred and then we would have become pretty upset about someone taking it to the slaughter house. Why? Because that’s how we feel about our sacred cows…kill and gut any cow as long as it isn’t our sacred cow.
Of course, this is how we feel about our own pet issues which have become our sacred cows too. I will know exactly what your sacred cow is by the way you react to whatever issue I’m criticizing. I once was speaking at a church on the purpose of our creation from Genesis chapter one and I criticized the literalist approach that reads the creation narrative as a modern day scientific text rather than a theological narrative spoken to a pre-scientific people. I knew I had taken a shot at someone’s sacred cow when a Christian man bombarded me with arguments, suggesting I not only was wrong in my understanding of the creation story but also that I needed to do some more learning (which meant receiving an invitation to his bookstore so that he could give me a few books defending a young-earth creation perspective).
My heart is heavy for all the prophets of old whom God called and sent out to hunt down some of Israel’s sacred cows. We’re no different today. We don’t like having our sacred cows targeted. We protect them because those cows are sacred to us. A preacher can go after someone else’s sacred cow because that cow is not sacred to us but should that preacher dare not come after our own sacred cow… Well, let’s just face it, that preacher might need to have his bags packed.
Of course, the problem with all sacred cows is just that. In most cases we have made something sacred that was never meant to be sacred. As a result, we are spending our energy fighting the wrong battle. I’m not sure what can be done unless we have the eyes to see and ears to hear so that we may tell the difference between what is sacred and what is not.
I don’t want to live for the things which are not sacred and yet, even I have my own sacred cows which you better not take aim at unless…
Our only hope is to pray. It’s a prayer to God, our Father in heaven, through the power of his Spirit, that we can be transformed into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. Then and only then will we be able to know the difference between the sacred and the ordinary. Then and only then will we understand what is worth living for.