Recently when I was asked how I and another leader differed in personality and style all I could think to say was “He is a cat guy, I am a dog guy.” Surprisingly, the comparison was understood.
But this thought has been rolling around in my head about how relationships form our “God experience” and what we can learn even from our preference for cats or dogs in relating to God. So what follows is an attempt to find something true (and make half of you mad because you are cat people).
When I was a little kiddo my mom wrote a song called “unconditional” and she had a friend record it. As I listened to the tape of that song I had no idea what unconditional meant. My mother graciously told me that unconditional love was the kind of love my dog had for me. Click. I got it. My dog (Ellen at the time I am sure) loved me without regard for how I treated her or how much attention I gave her. She was ever ready to give me licks of assurance and comfort and let me use her as a pillow. (My parents put this dog to sleep when I was older and I am still processing forgiveness!)
I wonder how much my relationship with that dog has shaped how I relate to God. As a dog person it is easy to understand unconditional and at time ridiculous love. Most dogs don’t want to be too far from their ‘human’ and are up for just about anything – and to them, whatever it is will be fun. I know when I come home from work it is a competition between the kids and the dogs as to whom will be more excited to see me, and sadly perhaps, the dogs often win. I can mess up, be mean to the dog and kick them into the back yard or reject their snuggles for the warmth of another (thankful for a wife here); but no matter what, the dog “loves” and takes me back as if nothing had happened.
Cat people. You have it rough. The cat only sees you as a means to an end. You serve them. They only “love” you on their terms and they rarely have terms that work to your benefit. Dogs might pee in the house because they can’t hold it any longer. Cats pee in the house (not in the box) to prove a point. They are selfish and many are just plain mean.
Now, suppose we see God in the way we relate to our pets (maybe we shouldn’t!) The cat person could see God as indifferent and retributive; if you don’t treat him right you are on the outs. You probably long for those rare moments when you have a God “purring” experience and feel love but mostly you feel like you just get the cold shoulder. And you are stuck earning the love of God.
Dog people on the other hand… well God loves you no matter what. You understand what unconditional love means, you get that because of Jesus’ work for you, all is finished. You know God is excited to “see” you and even when you ditch him for other relationships, he welcomes you home with a warm embrace. God is your protector, companion and confidant. He is actually your best friend. As I see it, being a dog person better equips you for understanding and living in response to the gospel.
There you have it. Half of you hate me at this moment and are plotting to harm my dogs. Don’t lose heart however, I still think you are Christians and have hope that one day you will get a dog. Perhaps I should close comments on this post…