Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Living With the Oxen

One of my favorite verses of Scripture is Proverbs 14:4, "Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox." This is a verse I come back to over and over again, whenever I get frustrated with the people I'm around, whether friends, family, co-workers, whomever. I mean, we all know what oxen (and other animals, for that matter) do in the manger, right? They eat and poop. Mangers, stables, barns are not clean places when they are full of animals. They're messy, smelly, and if you're not careful, you're likely to step right in the middle of something.

Here's the thing: the same is true of life with people. It's messy, smelly, and lots and lots of times I find myself stepping right in the middle of something very unpleasant. And yet, this verse reminds me that God has not intended me to live my life in isolation. He wants me to be around other people. He made me to be around other people. He designed humans as communal beings, because he himself, existing as the Trinity (Father, Son, and Spirit) is communal. This is not some kind of cosmic, "it takes a village" kind of deal. Instead it's a real, biblical realization that the Christian life is tough. It's a struggle, not only against the tangible hardships of life on this earth, but it's also an invisible, though very real, struggle against the supernatural forces that seek to destroy the children of God. How in the world could I think I could embark on a journey like that alone?

And so, at the end of the day, I'll take the dirty oxen. . . and be so thankful I'm another dirty member of the herd.

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