"The Eight Cow Christian"
"The Eight Cow Christian"
A week ago, twenty nine million U.S. citizens woke up early in the morning to catch the wedding of Prince Harry to California’s own Meghan Markle. From the pictures, it is the ideal wedding. Ms. Markle wore a Givenchy white dress, designed by Ms. Waight Keller, which had a 16 foot train. According to Wikipedia, a royal train only need be 10 feet. I wonder if the next royal bride will attach an 18 foot train to her dress…then the next 20 feet…until it is the size that reaches to the back of the church.
After the wedding, they rode in a silver blue E powered Jaguar to their reception. Commentators said that Prince Harry was a gentleman, opening the door for his new wife. And another noticed that, once in the car, Meghan leaned over and opened the door for him. “Ah,” people exclaimed, “It is a marriage of equals.”
Twenty nine million U.S. citizens woke up early to see a royal wedding. I suspect many were of the feminine sort—those who hope, someday, their wedding may look just a little like that one. “Yes,” a young woman says to her friends about her wedding plans: “forget the gas guzzling limo…we will drive away in an electrically powered convertible. And, (as she leans in closer), just so he knows how strong a woman I am, I too will open the door from the inside.”
That is the power of royalty…to set the vision of perfection.
Thank goodness, Paul does not invite Christians to become royalty. In fact, he, unlike the writings of Matthew and John and Hebrews, resists such regal language. He never does call God King.
For which I give thanks because if I wore 4 inch heels under a white dress with a 16 foot hand embroidered train, I’d trip over it, tear it, and fall on my bum.
Paul, instead, chooses to talk about how the spirit of slavery in us has been replaced by a new spirit of adoption. He preaches the new Spirit in us cries out to God “Abba/Father.” And, then he says that we, with Christ, become God’s heirs. There’s still hope that you, like Ms. Markle, will get to wear a diamond studded crown.
We start at verse 15: For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.
You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear....
I asked Bob about this passage and, through the Greek word for slave, he linked it to Hebrews 2:15…”Deliver them who, through fear and death were all lifetime subject to slavery.”
This week, I reflected on what a spirit of slavery looks like for me as a leader of our faith community.
You all know that part of our call is to serve people who are down and out. Last week, that call was on clear display as three people entered our sanctuary with immediate needs. One more shout out to Debra who stepped in and made sure we could continue on with our worship.
A spirit of slavery would distort that mission so I would lead our faith community to believe we can only share the gospel with the down and out. But, Jesus’ gospel is larger than the message of… even when you are at rock bottom, you are loved. We are endowed with what we need to bring the gospel to engineers, lawyers, and those of the Imperial Court—an international group of cross dressing fundraisers.
By the way, Don Dewey, who is not part of the Imperial Court but is the regional minister of the Christian Church (DOC) was here last week. He visits churches every week. He was visibly moved by our worship. He said how he loves the spirit that is in this place!
I know you so want to show people love that you will literally give the coat off your back. You don’t want to turn anyone away because you might turn them away from the gospel, show them they aren’t loved. So, like me, you are willing to mop and pick up trash and endure insult in order to open our doors to all people.
Be careful—don’t let service turn to servitude. Paul tells us that God is not a master seeking to enslave us. If you go too far in servitude, you stop asking, stop seeking, what you need to go on. Like, there was a moment last Sunday, after church, that I wondered if I should have stopped church and spent the time dealing with the very present need. Then I got the message, oh…hell no. It would leave us operating only on fumes. Nobody wants to get into a car that is out of gas.
Please, I ask, support me, support one another, in establishing appropriate limits. I’m so looking forward to the LOGOS training because it will help us set higher expectations. And those who do not want to rise up will not be welcome to bring everyone down. We will not be afraid to close our doors to some so we might open them to the ones who are ready to open their hearts to God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.
Adoption…Our faith reveals that God has made us his own.
Corduroy is one of my favorite children’s books. It is about a teddy bear who sits on a toy shelf hoping to be taken home. One day, a would-be buyer’s mom makes her daughter put him back because he has lost a button. That night, trying to fix himself, Corduroy goes on an adventure around the department store to look for his missing button. He fails in his quest. Before the night’s end, he is put back on the shelf, still missing a button. But, that morning, the same little girl comes into the store, and she, with her mom, buys him. The last picture is of the girl holding Corduroy and sewing on a new button.
I see God being like that little girl, taking us from the shelf, adopting us into her home, and sewing us back together to be our best.
That is what it means to receive a spirit of adoption. You get to be held. You get to be taken care of. You get to live with God. You belong with God so stand up straighter, hold your head up, and set your standards higher for those with whom you will be in relationship.
Second part of verse 15 going into verse 16: When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,….
The apostle Paul here asks us to give our assent to be adopted by God…to cry out to God as our Father, to cry out to God as our Abba, which is Aramaic for Daddy. There is a Spirit in us that seeks to be held and led by God as a great Father would hold and lead his son. When we let that Spirit lead, we become children of God.
Stand up straighter and hold your head higher….You belong to God.
Verse 17: and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ
Heirs…yes, here it is, the diamond studded crown…except it is the wrong kingdom!But you have something that is of greater worth….
In Ruth Group on Monday, we heard the story of the 8 cow wife. For those who weren’t there it is a story about a well-known trader in a time where, when a man wanted to marry a woman, he would bring to the family 2 cows. In the town where the trader lived, there was a woman so ugly that her family was putting out signs saying “Marry our daughter and we will give you two cows.”
Well, one day, the trader came knocking on that family’s door. He said, I want to
marry your daughter. The father replied, “Okay. I’ll get you your cows.” The trader replied, “that is not necessary. I want to marry your daughter so I have brought to you eight cows.”
Years passed and the story was told. One day a stranger entered into the town and heard the story about the trader who had paid eight cows to marry the ugliest woman in town. The stranger wanted to know why. So, he went to the trader’s home and knocked. The trader invited him in. Only a moment passed, before a beautiful woman entered in with some tea and biscuits. The graceful dignity with which she moved was captivating. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. But, then she left. The stranger assumed she was one of the trader’s many servants. So he turned to ask the question he came to ask.
“So, I heard you paid 8 cows to marry the ugliest woman in town. Why did you do that? Is she here?
The trader answered…”The one you speak of is my lovely wife; she is the woman who served you tea.”
Friends, stop walking around thinking you got to beg someone to be in relationship with you or our church or God.
You are an eight cow Christian!
The Trader’s wife served the guest with an elegant dignity knowing her worth.
When Jesus bent to wash the feet of the disciples, he did it knowing he was God’s son.
You are not only children of God, you are heirs of God. You don’t need a diamond studded crown—you only need know who and whose you are.
Let me finish the scripture: and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Ah, the Pauline twist. And, one that often leads us right back into the spirit of servitude unless you think about why Christ was hung on the cross. He refused to be less than who he was. He did not argue if he were King of the Jews when brought before Pilate cus he knew he was the Son of God. His kingdom was not of earth.
Therefore his life was not tied to earth.
To suffer with him means not letting go of who we are so we can get along. To suffer with him is to realize we must let go of many of our wants. To suffer with him is to stop seeking to replace our own button and cry out so God can take hold of us. And, then, and only then, my friends, we will find the courage to rise!
Romans 8:12-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ[j] from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through[k] his Spirit that dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.