Friday, September 28, 2007

Dogs, Vomit Eaters, & Pharisees

This is going to be a disgusting article, count on it, sorry but it is one that has to be written.

Ever had a dog and watch them if they vomit. One of the most disgusting things I have ever seen is a dog throw up, and then go eat its own vomit. I have heard dogs do this because they get nutrients and so forth, but truth is, it doesn’t make any sense to me and is rather disgusting. The Bible addresses this in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 26:11 says, Dogs return to eat their vomit, just as fools repeat their foolishness. I have to tell you, when looking at this verse, in this way, I have to wonder about some people.

The Bible is clear, one of the only things we can’t do in Heaven that we can do now, is share the message of Jesus Christ with those who are not followers of Jesus. Despite knowing this, there is virtually no arguments among Christians, we have a terrible track record of telling others about Jesus effectively. There are times historically where we have done a good job, I discuss this in my presentation of Prayer Prelude to Revival. When Christians have been effective they have also been socially active, and at showing love to the populace. This is not a debatable fact, it is clear cut, and well defined in history. There are other things about effective revival, but a willingness to show love to all people, stand up for justice, and bring about social change, are clear indicators of things that have happened prior to revival around the world.

My grandfather, whom I called Paps used to have this wonderful way of showing more intelligence than most any man I ever knew. Despite having only a 3rd grade education I found him wiser than most any man I ever met. One of his sayings was, “If a man aint got no common sense, he aint got no sense at all.” I think he may have stolen that from Davy Crockett or something, but I have found that saying to have so much wisdom in it.

In John 12:32, Jesus is talking about what will occur after he has been raised from the dead, notice his words here; “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” Notice the concept presented here, people will be drawn to Christ, there is no convincing, no chasing, no going after, none of that, they will draw near or come to him.

We also see an example of this in the imagery of Jesus as a shepherd. There is a wonderful book on this subject that was written by a shepherd named Philip Keller. The book titled, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 is one I would recommend any follower of Jesus to get and read. If you don’t like to read, get the audio book, it is just as good. In this book though we see the full implications of what it means when the Bible talks about being a shepherd. We also see and understand what it means when Jesus is referred to as a shepherd. A shepherd is one who protects, draws close, assists, helps, heals, leads, and so forth these stupid animals called sheep. A reminder here, and it is one we shouldn’t need much reminding of, is humans in the Bible are often called sheep, and as any shepherd will tell you, sheep are stupid. Of course I am a sheep myself so don't take it personally.

There are these types of common sense things we see, a shepherd according to Keller for example, never chasses after sheep, they are careful to how they rebuke them, they realize that with only their two feet and a staff, when rebuking they tend to chase away the sheep and the sheep run further away from the master, thus putting themselves into danger. It is important for the shepherd to be gentle, kind, and non threatening to the sheep.

I like simple analogies. One of the things I have learned over the years is some things about training dogs. Now on this point, I admit, I have a lot to learn and am far from perfect. It is important I don’t use my imperfections as an excuse to not do the things I need to do. God uses the illustration above from Proverbs to talk about dogs returning to their vomit. We could use other analogies regarding dogs when looking at human behavior.

In the training process of any animal one of the worst things any trainer will tell you, you can do is to beat, yell at, confuse the animal you are working with. When you do this the animal becomes afraid, and will run away from their master. This can be dangerous as an uncontrolled animal that is afraid and running from its master may run away to never come back, or even endanger itself. If you live close to a road, it may run into traffic where it is killed by an oncoming vehicle.

Recently my daughter and her husband were visiting with their dog. They have an Italian Greyhound and let me tell you, that dog is fast. While taking the dog out to go to the bathroom Nora, (my grandpuppy) got off her leash and took off running. My son in law, Brett, was there calmly yelling out as he reached into his pocket to get a treat, “Here Nora, come on and get a treat.” He was saying this in a calm manner and the dog started to return. As she started to do so, a boy in the neighborhood yells out, ”I’ll get her!” and proceeded to chase after Nora. Nora at that point became confused and took off running away from the house and towards the highway near the house. Thankfully, Brett turned and yelled at the kid, “Shut up and don’t chase her!” The boy was somewhat shocked, stopped yelling and stopped chasing after Nora. Brett then, changing his demeanor, and tone of voice, turned towards Nora, his first word “Nora!” was sharp and loud. She turned toward her master and Brett proceeded then in a calm, loving, caring way to say, “Come here girl, come on, come and get your treat.” As Brett bent over, clapping his hands in a playful loving way, it was amazing, Nora stopped, looked toward Brett, then looked toward the boy Brett had yelled at, and she came running with her tail wagging toward her master. Brett calmly praised her, gave her, her treat, and petted her to let her know he loved her.” Personally, I think that is exactly what Jesus does, it is how he draws all people toward him, but how often we forget and do instead like the boy, stop, yell, chase and ultimately get further and further away from the cause of Christ, those very people Christ loves so much.

Message boards, and places like MySpace can be a great place, but I have found far to often, they can also be a dangerous place. Too many people who know nothing about how to love, draw near, and reach out to those needing love the most follow bad habits and end up chasing away not only those who love Jesus, but those honestly seeking, and even those who used to search but have now been driven so far away they may never come back. These are the type of people who try to justify “Righteous Anger” and things of the sort. What they continue to ignore though, is that virtually every time in the Bible you see “Righteous Anger” it is towards the religious establishment, seldom if ever towards those who aren’t religious. Jesus understood what it meant to love all people, to draw all people to him. It is a sad thing that many people who say they are followers of Jesus are too busy going back to their own vomit to realize the damage and danger they are doing.

The Bible is clear, we will know who really loves God by how they love others. We will know it by their love and by the fruit they have. If people aren’t making a change in someone else’s life for the good, if they aren’t reaching those who are searching for God, if they are chasing them away as opposed to drawing them near, I think it is common sense that they may not be serving God nearly as much as they are serving their own ego and pride. God help us all build bridges, and show love to all people, no matter their religion, sexuality, denomination, or anything we may perceive as being different from us. The bottom line is Jesus loved them and for those who choose to be like Jesus, we must love them to.

As an example, here is a wonderful video that shows how a dog is loving the discipline, yet looking forward to the praise and treet, plus is constantly drawn to their master. Just double click on the video, if the video isn' there, just click on the link below.

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