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Monday, February 2, 2009

Dogs Don't Have Whiskers

A three year old girl once remarked to my wife “Dogs don’t have whiskers”. A short time later she was playing with our family dog, Yukon. Upon being shown that Yukon had whiskers, she immediately remarked, “Dogs don’t have whiskers”. In defense of the little girl, all of the pictures of cats that she had seen in books showed whiskers. But none of the pictures of dogs she had seen had them. As humorous as this story is, it has a point. Based on what she had seen in books, dogs don’t have whiskers. With her mind made up, evidence to the contrary just didn’t fit in her worldview of dogs. It would take more time and experience for her to comprehend that dogs do really have whiskers.

I wonder how many times do we experience the same as we go through life. It is very easy for us to have a similar attitude. In many cases it is related to the worldview we hold. At other times we don’t want to change our viewpoints. It is easy to express thoughts like “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts”. This tendency affects many aspects of life. We take the attitude that one political party is always right and the other is always wrong. For many, the thought of even considering voting for a candidate of the other party never even crosses their mind. Parents whose children are in serious trouble with the law often state “But he or she is such a good kid”. Having our minds already made up contributes to both the racial and marital tension in our society. We prejudge those who have a social economic status that is different than ours. In each case, an inflexible worldview prohibits us from knowing the truth and developing meaningful relationships with others. We are either unable or unwilling to change our preconceived ideas.

In Jesus’ time, The Pharisees had preconceived ideas of what the Messiah would be like. They eagerly awaited his coming. But Jesus didn’t fit into their mold. The gospel accounts show Jesus clashing with them again and again. When he didn’t fit their definition of the Messiah, they rejected and eventually killed him. How many times we do the same thing with God? How many preconceived ideas do we have of God that are incorrect? Do we put him into a box and refuse to let him out? Do we tell him what he can or cannot do? Do we believe that he was actively involved in history during Bible times but not today? Too often the answers to these questions indicate that we really have placed God in a box. When we do, we have a distorted worldview.

But God refuses to be confined to a box. He will always break out. He invites us to give up our preconceived ideas and to seek to know him as he really is. It is the same invitation that Jesus gave to the Pharisees. He invited them to accept him as the Messiah whom they were anticipating. But they had to accept him on his terms, not theirs. He asks us the same. We have to accept him on his terms, not on our own terms. This requires us to change our thoughts and worldview. We have to put whiskers on dogs, so to speak. Lest we become entrenched in our own inaccurate beliefs like the little girl, we need to ask from time to time “What dogs in my life do I need to put whiskers on?”

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