The Duty of Christian Cows to Fly
by S. M. Hutchens
David Mills has lately been doing his readers the service of extracting some of Charles Haddon Spurgeon's comments on the proverbs of his day. This one I found particularly salty:
"A cow is not ashamed because it cannot fly." Let no man blush because he cannot do what he was never made for. The coachman on the Bath coach could not tell the names of the gentry who owned the mansions along the road, but he gave a fine answer to the angry passenger who asked, "What do you know?" when he replied, "I know how to drive this coach to Bath."
I wish this wisdom had been strongly present to my consciousness many years ago. It would have saved me a good deal of unnecessary guilt, having been born into one of those many churches with an activist bent that instead of helping its members discover and develop the gifts they had been given by their Creator, wanted to make its cows fly and its horses sing. The trait that galled me personally most was that such churches invariably seemed to have a special mission of making their badgers into herd animals—on pain of nothing less than the Lord's judgment for dereliction of Christian duty. Much of this was connected to the establishment of church "programs" assumed to be good because they were for some pious reason "needed."
In my late teens and twenties this way of operating came to bother me so much that, at the risk of feeling even more guilty somewhere down the road, I went into full rebellion mode.
I did not leave the church, but very well might have. I did, however, despise its foolishness. Eventually I found myself counseling tender-hearted cows, horses, and badgers whose guilt at not even desiring (out of concern for duty to the God who had done so much for them) to be something other than they were, brought some of the most sensitive to the point of mental breakdown.
I now tell people who are troubled with these things that God made them as they were made with something in mind, and that they could freely and happily conform to the mold in which they were founded, for this is his way of doing things. There is a great deal of flexibility and free exercise of the will in all this, and he will expect one to do things that are hard, as it is hard for a horse to learn various paces, but these are genuine horse-things to do. But he does not take eye tissue to make a hand, or expect a foot to digest a meal, or make a cow and expect her to fly—which is exactly what is demanded by foolish and unreflective preachers in foolish and unreflective churches, and which expectation has done great harm both to people and the churches.
S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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