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Tavern Talk #30: Dogs & Dishwashers

With the limitations of COVID-19, many have found their usual means of seeing and connecting with God limited or missing altogether. The only reference to God made by some these days are with the death, destruction, illness, and pain and suffering of COVID-19; with politicians, political positions, and political parties; and with the hatred, violence, and division that seems to capture top billing throughout the world. But God is love. God is a God of love. Those who have ever experienced love have necessarily experienced God’s love. The Bible is one long illustration of our relationship with God and his love for us. And though we might not be able to experience it in some of the ways that we are used to, there are plenty of examples, reminders, and representations of God’s love all around us.

Take dogs for instance. I’m talking about our pets, not the wild ones (though all have experienced occasional disappointment with their domestication). They show us unconditional love. No matter what we say or do to them, they want to be with us. They want to please us. Regardless of whether their actions are motivated by an emotion attributable to love, it certainly manifests itself that way. And what about the love we show them? We talk about them, spend time with them, pet them, feed them, photograph them, and provide them food, comfort, and shelter.

If our dogs can love us this much, how much does God? How much can the master creator of the universe, who created us to love and to be loved, who is the source of all that we love, and who loves us unconditionally and despite our failings of him and ourselves, just how much can he love us? It’s probably more than our dog does. And how much love do we show God? Do we spend as much time with God as we do our dog? Do we spend nearly as much time praising and talking to and about God as we do our dog? And what about the love we show each other? God asked that we love him and love each other. Do we show others the love we show our dogs? I’m afraid we fall short in all these areas.

But another reminder of God’s love is the grace shown us through Jesus Christ, which is illustrated by our humble dishwashers. While we may all have different ideas on how best to use them, they are our go-to for clean dishes. The plates, glasses, and utensils go in dirty and come out clean. This is much like what Jesus Christ does for us. We come to him, to God, in various states of clean (or dirty) with a desire to be made clean, to be absolved of our sins, to feel better about our relationship with God, and better about ourselves. We come to Jesus dirty and come out clean. And of course, because we are human, we will become soiled again despite our best efforts. What do we do then? We go back to the dishwasher. Jesus is always there for us. That is the wonder of God’s grace and the power of forgiveness.

Yes, this is all sounds quite simple. But it seems that Christianity is actually pretty simple – not easy, just simple. Some spend a lot of time lost in the minutiae of theology or arguing why God supports their notions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of however they define “God’s will.” And in the end, they wind up with disagreement and discord. It’s not the basic, simple, undisputed tenets of Christianity with which most disagree (love God, love your neighbor, the power of grace and forgiveness), but it’s Christians themselves. What if we all spent more time looking for illustrations of God’s love and grace all around us, focused on implementing them in our lives, and less time arguing and trying to force our opinions on others?

Other Readings:

Pick a spot, any spot, in the Bible. Read it. How does it illustrate God’s love for us? dogs

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