Thursday, October 26, 2006

Top 3 Reasons to be More Like a Dog Owner

You may laugh at the title of this post, but wait. Over the summer I adopted a lovely 7 month old Newfoundland puppy. Having never owned a dog before, I was a little shocked to discover how much work they were ... especially when they weigh 80 pounds! His name is Sammy, and when Sammy decided he wanted to go somewhere, he did (usually with me trying to hang on to the leash and keep my balance as he dragged me along). After 3 days, I decided that this was NOT working. Out of sheer desperation I made a frantic call to the local dog obedience school and was put into a class right away. Well, I was amazed at the sub-culture that exists within the dog owner world. Dog owners - especially owners whose dogs are the same breed - have a common bond with each other. I felt like by getting Sammy, I'd somehow been accepted into this loving family of other dog owners. I left my first class feeling great!

On the way home I realized that these people are a great example to the Christian community, and we'd all be a little better off if we modeled some of their behavior.

So here they are, the top 3 reasons why Christians should be more like dog owners:

Reason # 1: They are PROUD of their dogs.

It may sound odd, but bear with me. They are dog owners, be it Newfie, boxer, poodle owners, they define themselves as 'dog owners'. Not only do they have a group they belong to, but they are PROUD OF IT! They buy the dog calendar, the dog welcome mats, the dog t-shirts and all the other available (and often expensive) dog paraphenalia. They are known at the local pet stores and are recognized as 'the owner of ___'.

If only we, as Christian could be so boldly obvious in our definition of ourselves. Who are we? We are FORGIVEN. How awesome is that? But do we have the calendar, the T-shirts, the welcome mats? Are we known by name at the local Christian bookstore? When people see us on the street is it obvious to them that we are children of the Living God? Unfortunately, not usually.

Reason # 2: They are KNOWLEDGEABLE about their pets.

Me, for example. When I got Sammy, I went out and got a book on Newfie dogs and began to learn about them. I found out all kinds of stuff and excitedly shared these things with my friends and family. To be honest, I'm sure I drove them all crazy with all the little tidbits of information I kept spouting at them. Why did I do it? I was excited by what I'd learned about my puppy. I wanted to say, "Hey! Guess what MY dog can do!".

Why is it that when we learn new things about God, Jesus or salvation we don't immediately start sharing it with our friends and family? Why can we so easily contain this kind of information and not be excited about it? We should be saying to everyone who will listen, "Hey! Guess what MY God can do!".

Reason # 3: Dog owners love TO BE WITH OTHER dog owners.

Every week at puppy class, we all stand around and chat as we wait for class to start. These people don't know me, but they know my dog, they know his name, and I am simply "owner of Samson". The same is true of them. I don't know any of their names, but I know them as, 'owner of Toby' or 'owner of Trooper' etc. But this doesn't matter. We are dog lovers and this connects us to each other. We can stand around all evening and chat comfortably together. For a group of people who have nothing else in common, that's pretty good.

Christians I find are often less comfortable together if you are new to the group. We often smile and make nice. We hide our struggles for fear of being judged or looked down upon. We don't always relish Sunday mornings and don't linger after service to hang out with each other (aka fellowship together). We aren't always able to stand around and talk about our common bond - faith in Jesus Christ. Often the topic makes us uncomfortable. We listen to the Pastor, sing our hymns and get out of there as fast as we can!

My final thought is this; at puppy class, I found others who faced the same struggles as me. I have learned that I am not alone in the puppy-raising trials I often find myself in. These fellow dog owners were able to provide suggestions to help me solve my problems as well as the feeling that I wasn't in this alone. I had a 'family' who was willing to help me and support me.

How much more like puppy class should Sunday service be? How much more like my 'dog owner family' should my 'Christian family' be?

Posted by Faith Girl

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