After its labour, the ox would go to the crib where it was fed, refreshed and where it could rest. The ox would enjoy the company of other oxen in the crib. This was its shelter. It was a place to look forward to and where the animal would receive care.
Doesn’t that sound like the reasons we join a church? We want a place of soul care. And yet, in spite of the good things in the crib the oxen bring a lot of manure, noise, scuffling, bumping and even bruising. Just like the mess we all bring when we come together.
A good farmer does not dwell on the drudgery of maintaining his animals, but focuses on the profit they bring to him. If the animal is useful to him, he does the necessary maintenance to ensure the health and nurture of his animals. Every farmer carries a good shovel.
If you do not make the effort to keep an active barn clean, it will get dirty. The same is true of our lives and the community of faith. If we are oxen, then the church is to be our crib. And that means a few shovels of manure.
The dirt is part of it and maintenance is necessary. Every church needs a cleaning crew. The early church pastors had much to say about how to live our lives.
Perfection is a process and there are steps involved in attaining the goal. Perfectionists rejoice! We are all supposed to aim for perfection. How are we doing? Not so good, eh? It would be quite discouraging if not for the fact that God is involved in this life maintenance.
When we are at our best behaviour, we aim to be a perfect organism without moral fault, absent of sin and a place where no one is ever offended, perturbed or rubbed the wrong way. At our worst though, the stuff piles up and it begins to stink.
Unfortunately, there will always be people who like to grovel in dirt. They are like Pigpen, the character in Peanuts who always has a dust cloud surrounding their filthy life. If you are Pigpen, have you thought about taking a spiritual bath?