Cabbages and Kings

Goodbye from the Mouse

Good news! A cheese factory just started up in our area. Part of a dairy complex. Some of my friends are moving there. I’ve been invited to join them. A tempting offer for a poor church mouse like myself.

I’m considering it. I’m sure the church custodian would like it if I left.

I remember how disillusioned my theater cousin was one day when a new show came to town. He said the production was magnificent! The women, beautiful! The men, handsome! The costumes, dazzling! But behind the scenes, he saw that the hero had feet of clay. As a church mouse, I, too, get a disillusioning look behind the “seens”—choir robes, Sunday faces, etc.

Someone said, “Beware of giving the family parrot to the town gossip.” Well, sometimes the town gossip is a member of the church. Or take the subject of dissension. How many church members pick up their marbles and go elsewhere when others will not play by their rules?

There is something in the Bible about the Lord Jesus presenting the church to the Father without spot or wrinkle. That will take a miracle! Nothing less. Being small and overlooked, I hear and see a lot. Take it from me, there are spots and wrinkles aplenty.

I don’t have to look far to find reasons for leaving. But there are profound reasons for staying. One of the biggest is that when I look at people in church, I see creatures bearing the imago Dei, the image of God. Recently our pastor said that the increase in modern society of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia is a result of viewing human beings as having a common ancestry with me.

So what’s the difference, then, between putting down an aged pet or an old man? The book of Genesis, in describing living creatures as being created “after their kind,” places a great distinction between human beings on the one hand, and all other creatures on the other.

A few years ago our pastor traveled to Switzerland. He wanted to see a mountain called “Jungfrau.” The town he was in, nestled at the foot of the Jungfrau-Interlochen, was overcast. When the clouds parted the next day, he saw the mountain looming over him as if it might fall. He cried, “Look! Look!” It was an awesome sight! But the native passersby never looked.

Our pastor commented that you can live so long beside Niagara Falls that you no longer hear it. And you can live so long at the base of the Jungfrau that you no longer see it. And you can hear the gospel so repeatedly that you no longer sing it.

If I were a human being I’d sing and shout and laugh and cry. And kneel. That’s why I wish to remain a church mouse—to see the image-bearers sing and kneel and pray. And to see some of them change.

Did Christ’s mission on earth include mice? A preposterous question? Remember that great theologian Abraham Kuyper, who said that there’s not a thumb’s breadth in all creation of which Jesus does not say, “It is mine.” That includes me.

More than once the Bible says that everything was made by, for, and through the Lord Jesus Christ. That includes me. And there’s no biblical warrant for saying that there will be no animals in the new heaven and earth. Indeed, if Paradise Lost contained the lower creatures, then Paradise Regained probably will too.

It was nice visiting with you these nine months.

Goodbye.

About the Author

Rev. Jacob D. Eppinga was pastor emeritus of LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, in Grand Rapids, Mich. He went to be with his Lord March 1, 2008. This column concludes his popular “Cabbages and Kings” series, which he wrote for 40 consecutive years. Watch for It’s All Grace, a collection of his best and more recent columns to be published in book form this fall by Faith Alive Christian Resources.
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