Dog Gone It: Love One Another!
I am trying to adopt a dog from the Weimaraner Rescue. Having already adopted one dog from them, I was a bit surprised that I have to again go through their screening process. A process that starts with a quiz entitled: Are You Ready for a Weimaraner? The quiz, obviously designed to weed a few people out, posed the following questions:
Are you familiar with the term: counter surfing?
Do you take issue with a fresh-out-of-the-mud dog cuddling with you on the couch?
Does your neighbor have a cat? Does your neighbor like their cat? Does your neighbor have a lawyer in case said cat mysteriously disappears?
Do you like to run with and/or after dogs? How fast can you run?
You didn’t really want that Rottisserie Chicken did you?
Familiar with the amusing horror stories that go alone with owning a Weimaraner, I aced the quiz and moved on to phase II. This phase included a 10 page application. Weimaraner rescue of Oregon now officially knows more about me than my husband, whom I subsequently sacrificed to the couch in order to make room for another dog in our bed.
Passing Phase II with flying colors, I got an actual email from an actual volunteer. Now came Phase III: the first of what promises to be at least two home visits. Yesterday, I nice couple from six cities north drove down to check us out (and pick up some lumber from Home Depot). They verified our yard was fenced, our kids were not demons, and our current dog (Hurley) was well cared for.
They also brought their dog, Rude Rhonda (really, that’s her name).
Rhonda charged through the front door and immediately shared her sentiments with Hurley. They bumped noses, sniffed rear ends, wagged at one another, and hit the back yard for some rough and tumble. It was a good sign that Hurley is ready for a sibling. It was, until the unthinkable happened. My husband Rubbed. Rhonda’s. Head.
Hurley turned into psycho dog. He began barking, showing his teeth, and stood guard so that Rhonda could gain no access to us. He essentially proclaimed: “you can go home now.”
Going to church can feel like visiting another dog’s home. At first everyone wags their tail; excited for a new member, or convert, or potential Sunday School Worker. But as time passes the tone can change. One wrong move and the barking begins.
Christians (me included) are too often more unforgiving, critical, and judgemental of one another than they are of anyone else.
In Micah chapter two, the prophet Micah proclaimed judgment against the kingdom of Judah. The charge was not about worshipping false gods, falling down before idols, or forsaking their religion. The charge was that they had treated one another with indecency, and in so doing had made themselves the enemies of God.
We hold hands in church and sing about loving one another, but do we know how seriously God takes that command? Consider this: to treat your brother unkindly is to make yourself the enemy of God.
It is a sobering reality.
The people of Judah remained puffed up and secure: “we are God’s people,” they said, “God won’t judge us.”
Christians, too, puff themselves up. “We feed the homeless, we give clothes to the poor, we tithe to the church.” But remember what Paul wrote: even if I give all my belongings to feed the poor, but have not love, it means nothing. Love and doing good deeds are not one in the same.
Going to church should feel like going home. We, as Christians, hold the responsibility to put out (and leave out) the welcome mat. It means singing even when it’s not our favorite song. It means listening to the sermon instead of listening for the pastor to say something we don’t agree with. It means saying hello to the person who wronged us, hugging the person who is nothing like us.
It means putting our judgments and criticisms and expectations aside and just enjoying one another. It requires a profound sum of forgiveness, of long-suffering, of hope.
Really, God is just asking us for basic kindness and genuine care. To treat one another in such a way it is as though we proclaim, “You can Come home now!”