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serving jesus christ the king

Snow Cows

I’m no expert on cows; one cow generally looks the same as another cow to me (I’ve probably just alienated the rural readers of this column!). But anyhow, unless they are different colours I don’t know enough to tell them apart.

Now what has that admission got to do with anything? Not a lot. Except that I was driving past a field the other day that was full of cattle, and I could tell that they were different from most of the others I had seen before. What was it that gave the game away?

They were all white. That was new to me. I’ve seen one or two white ones before, but I certainly haven’t seen a whole field full. But there they were, looking rather distinctive against the rich green of the field, like the first snowdrops of the spring.

Yet despite all their whiteness, even to my inexpert gaze I could distinguish different shades of white. Some were more a cream colour. Others were a slightly off-white, almost a grey tinge to their hide – as if they had somehow been drained of their colour. But compared to other cattle in other fields and compared to the surrounding green, they were all very definitely white. It reminded me of choosing paint. You go into Atlantic Homecare and ask for white, and they ask you “Which shade?”! I thought white was white.

Back to the cows. I didn’t see them when the snow was lying thick on the ground last week. I wouldn’t have minded seeing them in a snow-covered field, just to see how white they really are. I have a hunch that compared with the blinding white of the snow even the whitest of cattle would look distinctly dirty. They would prove no match for the pure white of snow.

Isn’t it a bit like that with us? We look at others and we think, “Well, I’m not that bad. I’m not as bad as so-and-so.” All round we think we’re pretty decent. But it’s only when we see ourselves against the sinlessness of a pure God that we realise how messed up we are. And that’s the standard that matters. ‘Mostly white’ doesn’t count. Only pure white counts with God.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that we are guilty of wrong. What hope have we then? None, if we’re trying to look clean by ourselves. But the great thing is that God offers to make us white like the snow. For free. If we ask him.

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” - Psalm 51:7