Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. – Hebrews 12:28-29 (NKJV)
Recently I was typing something for my church and instead of typing the word God I transposed the letters and typed the word dog. I am certainly not the first person to have ever done that. Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Dog is my co-pilot” which parodies the more famous bumper sticker, “God is my co-pilot.” As an aside, my favorite bumper sticker of this genre is that, “If God is your co-pilot, you’re in the wrong seat!”
I started thinking beyond the mere transposition of letters and how we as Christians are sometimes guilty of treating the Divine as a mere canine:
- We seek to domesticate God. Dogs were among the first wild animals domesticated by man. Over the years they have been taught to perform a myriad of useful jobs from guarding sheep to searching for concealed drugs. Dogs trained for these purposes and others are loyal and extremely dutiful, behaving in excepted and predictable ways. We sometimes expect God to behave in safe, predictable ways. If this is our expectation we are in for a surprise. Scripture tells us, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa. 55:8-9). We can send dogs to obedience school, but we cannot consign God there.
- We expect God to “fetch.” We’ve all seen or maybe even participated in a game of “catch” with a dog. A stick or ball is thrown off into the distance and the dog eagerly retrieves it and returns it the thrower. Alternatively some dogs are trained to attack. With the simple command of “sic’ em,” a well-trained dog will instantly incapacitate an attacker. We cannot merely dispatch God to address whatever whim suits our fancy at the moment.
- We select a God suitable to our personal taste. Dogs were originally domesticated from wolves and have been bred to emphasize various attributes, i.e. size, temperament, looks, etc. A hip hop artist who wants to appear “hard” is unlikely to select a toy poodle to appear with him in a music video. We select ours dogs to reflect who we are or the images we’re trying to project. Although we might sometimes be guilty of selecting our places of worship in this fashion, i.e. mega-church, small church, liturgical, etc., the sovereign God is a not a selection on a cafeteria menu.
I can think of one human / dog relationship that we would be wise to emulate in our relationship with God. That is the relationship between a blind person and his seeing-eye dog. The blind person is incapable of seeing and must rely implicitly on his seeing-eye dog to navigate including such tasks as crossing busy intersections. The person in this instance must literally place his “blind trust” in the paws of his seeing our dog. We should have the same level of trust in the omniscient God of the universe. As Proverbs 3:5-6 famously reminds us, trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.