“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”
Proverbs 14:4 (ESV)
My house is not very clean. If anyone were to judge my wife or myself as parents based upon the cleanliness of our house then I’m afraid we’d fail. With four children (and another on the way) it would take the vast majority of our time to keep the house spotless. It’s not a hasmat situation, but neither is it very tidy. I confess that occasionally a couple days go buy without me sweeping the dining area. With four children things are constantly getting damaged and broken. We coul spend all our time cleaning and repairing to the neglect of our children’s need for love, discipline, instruction and companionship. We could lay down plasit sheeting on the carpet and sofa, make rules prohibiting indoor play and generally try to preserve the hosue in perfect order preventing wear and tear and damage. That is no way to raise children or be family. Wear and tear, brokenness, dirt… they part of human life. They are part and parcel of living in community.
Church is the same way. We could spend our energies preserving our buildings, traditions, and sacred cows. Or we can get dirty. Helping people means getting dirty: Both our facilities and ourselves.
Where there are no oxen, the barn can be kept clean and in order. But no crops will be planted or harvest. The barn is useless. In order to plant, grow and harvest crops we must allow the oxen in and they will poop on the ground. They will make a mess. But it is a mess without which the farm will fail.
How’ your barn? How’re your house and church? Is everything so pristine people are afriad to sit down? Or do you allow dirty people with messy lives into your circle? Do you get messy and dirty with them?