By Scott HIlgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
National Day of the Cowboy is our chance to celebrate the cowboy culture and its rich and storied history from the expansion of the America west to the rise of ranching and rodeo. That event is celebrating at the end of every July through the efforts of a non-profit organization that even received recognition for the day from the federal government.
It’s a time to celebrate who we are as cowboys whether it’s the ranch foreman or the rodeo rider. And regardless of the profession, both sides of the industry come with strong cultural identities and a sense of pride. Most of us live and breathe what it means to be a ranch or rodeo cowboy. We may also see ourselves as fathers and mothers or artists and leather workers. The biggest parts of our lives often become what defines us and how we see and describe ourselves. There is such uniqueness to the professions in rodeo and ranch work that we adopt many parts of those lifestyles into our home lives from how we decorate to the pictures we put on the wall. We surround ourselves with paraphernalia that represents the cowboy culture.
But what about our Christianity?
Many of us do the same things, particularly with the image of a cross from one hanging around our necks to one hanging on the wall in our homes. Who we are in Christ should be the most important way we see ourselves because of our understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
1Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Wow, that’s just part of who I am as a follower of Jesus, forgiven for my sin by a saving faith in Jesus. By believing who Jesus was and is and by repenting of my sin and asking to be forgiven, I’m made right before God and seen by Him in the way Peter describes in that verse. Any sin, big or small in our eyes equally separates us from God. But through that saving faith in Jesus, we no longer face God’s judgment and wrath that condemns us to Hell, but are given a perfect eternity in Heaven.
When our faith is real, we begin to see ourselves more like Jesus and less like we used to be. We have a desire to become more like Jesus, learning from the Bible what’s asked of us and wanting to do that, not because it can earn us any more than the salvation we’ve received but because of our understanding of what has been given to us. How can we not want to be more like the one who saved us?
We may start to make different choices in how we live or treat people, but we don’t give up being cowboys; instead, we become something more with the Holy Spirit working within us.
Part 7 of 7 The Company You Keep
By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
The cowboy crowd in particular doesn’t seem to be fans of being told what to do.
But one of the reasons we’re asked to be intentional about who we spend time with is because of Jesus’s command we know as The Great Commission.
Matthew 28:19-20“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Being surrounded by like-minded and experienced Christians can help us grow in our faith and can help us stay strong as we interact with the world around us to tell them about Jesus.
It’s one of a handful of very specific commands that Jesus gives along with a command to love others.
One of the most loving things we can do is tell them about Jesus.
As Christians, followers of Christ, we know that our sin separates us from God and that God is going to condemn it. We also know he made a way for all of us to be in His presence and that was through the death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus came to live perfectly among us but most importantly to be sacrificed to take the punishment meant for our sin so we could enter into Heaven and be with God.
God won’t let us in our presence as sinners but through a faith in Jesus, who he was and what he did for us on the cross and by repenting of our sin and asking to be forgiven of it, God will no longer see the sin our lives. Instead, He sees us as perfect.
Anyone who works with bulls, cattle or horses knows how easy it can be to be brought to sin in the form of anger so we rely on what we understand as grace—God’s forgiveness even though we don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it, we can only receive it from Jesus. But knowing we have this forgiveness should compel us to want others to have it too.
This is why as Christians, Jesus commands us to tell others about him but he also commands us to disciple others. As we are discipled, we also should be discipling others—teaching them what we know from Scripture.
We look back to earlier in Mark and see the work of being discipled begin.
Matthew 4:18-20 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
The reason he called them to follow him was so that he could equip them to go out there and lead others to that saving faith in him so that they also could be trained and equipped. The very first disciple was called almost 2,000 years ago. You now being asked to do the same comes because someone shared the gospel and discipled me while somone else had shared the gospel and discipled that person and so on and so on stretching back all the way to that day Jesus called Peter and Andrew to walk away from their boats.
How cool is that?