How you are in the pasture is more important than how you are in the church.

by Kevin on May 24, 2010

I used to work at a horse auction when I was going to college. That was an eye opening experience. I learned that what you see is not always what you get. I have seen horses that came limping off the trailer when they got there only to be miraculously healed by the time their turn in the sale ring came. I have seen the same horse be sold time and time again through the sale ring by different horse traders to new suckers every week. Back then, there was still a “killer” market. For all the Wal-Martians, this means dog food and glue ingredients. The “killer” buyer looked like a sweet old grandpa. He would just smile at the people who had just sold their horse to him and even tell them how happy he was to own that horse now. I never heard him lie to anyone, but I never heard him tell anyone the exact truth either.

There was one horse trader who built a sale ring at his house. It had ceiling fans, spectator stands, sale ring, auctioneer’s booth, and everything else you could imagine. He even had an auctioneer recorded and played at high volume so the horse could get used to this type of atmosphere. His kids would stand outside the ring and holler and raise their hands like they were bidding to get the horse used to that. You didn’t want your horse getting spooked and bucking you off while you were trying to sell him. This guy was a pretty good horseman and when he rode a horse into the ring, it sure performed well. It wasn’t bothered by the noise or the crowd. It would spin this way and that way. He would slide off the back end of that horse and then crawl underneath it. A person might think that this was the best horse in the world. And it probably was if you were going to make your living riding in a horse sale ring. You get that horse outside and it was going to be a different ball game.

Isn’t this how a lot of people act in their Christian lives? When they get to church on Sunday, they know exactly how to act. They can spin to the left and spin to the right with the best of them. They know all the “God Bless You” things to say to the old ladies. They drop a fifty in the offering. They know when to “amen” the preacher. Shoot, they are liable to be called on to say a prayer now and then. They are the model Christian—until they get outside. Then it’s a different story. Then it’s a horse of a different color.

On Sunday afternoon, right after lunch, they have forgotten all they just “amened” at church. They are a totally different person than the one that said the closing prayer. The question might be, is it “them” we are talking about–or us.

True Christians try just as hard out in the pasture as they do the church.  God knows the truth about you. Are you worshiping God in your life in spirit and truth?

John 4:23-24
23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The time has come for you to put away your worldly desires and become the worshiper that God seeks. Don’t just be the horse that does good in the sale ring. Be the horse that doesn’t show what he’s made of until you get him alone in the pasture with a bull on the end of the rope. The truth about us is not revealed at church. The truth is revealed in the lives we lead when we walk out of those church doors.

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  • Great way to illustrate that point, Kevin. Isn’t that problem (church folks not acting Christian outside church) just what many unchurched folk complain about? They have seen the hypocrisy (yes, that’s what Jesus called it) and they want nothing to do with it. If the church is going to make a difference in the world we have got to start being like Christ outside the church. –Richard

  • As Richard says – what a great way to illustrate a point.

    On a related note, I’ve tried to get my pastor to understand that going to church on the Sunday is not the central part of our christian walk but that the other 6 days are just as, if not more important. But because he’s been ‘out of the world’ for so long he just doesn’t get that folks don’t think his way all the time.

    This story also reminds me that I want to somehow get my pastor (and all the other full time pastors out there) back into the real world once every 5yrs to ‘re-experience’ being an ordinary Joe / Jane christian again. It should also allow them time to freshen their lives, their points of view, their stock of stories, etc …!

    • Kevin

      I read your comment to my wife last night. She said the same thing about it as I did. “WOW!” I don’t know how in the world to get pastors to re-experience life on the outside, but I think it’s a great idea. How could we get that done?

      • Kevin – I’ve no idea how it would be done but I have tried to think through some of the practicalities.

        The likelihood is that you’d not get a well paid job (unles syou have a large church with some well off benefactors) so the deal is: let’s say they end up at MacDonalds and the shortfall on salary between the earning in the Church and the real world is 10K (bear in mind I have no idea how much pastors or mine in particular make) then the Church still pays that as a salary to them so they don’t lose out in financial terms.

        The “savings” the church makes on the pastors salary they use to pay church regulars (or even pay to bring in speakers) a “fee” for stepping up to the plate whilst the pastor isn’t there to do what they usually do.

        I see it all as win-win but as you say, how.

        • Kevin

          You might be on to something there. I bet, especially in larger churches, that someone in the congregation has a company that they would be willing to “hire” the pastor for even a short term like 3-6 months. Maybe the church could still pay the pastor his salary and use the “money” he earns at his new job to finance some guest pastors until he comes back. The money he earns at this new secular job would be given to the church instead of him since he is still drawing money in from the church.

          That would be the makings of a great reality TV show. Contact me anytime for the reality show — “Cowboy Pastor out in the pasture!”

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