If You Don’t Feel Like A Child Of God Today – But More Like A Dog
We are certainly pet lovers in the United States, spending 72 billion dollars per year on pet care. It’s hard to grasp, but many American cats and dogs may eat better and have more comforts than multitudes of people in developing countries. The purpose of this isn’t to make us feel guilty, but to realize the wealth of a prosperous nation, or master, will make its way to even the furry friends. Does this sound like a familiar tale from the Bible?
In Mark 7:24-30, we meet a mother wishing to have her daughter healed of an unclean spirit; to her request for this healing, Jesus answers in a peculiar way, replying, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (v. 27) This statement may seem cruel and exclusive, but from countless other texts, we know Jesus to be very inclusive. For example, in John 6:35 Jesus states, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” No, Jesus wasn’t excluding this desperate mother, but was using this moment as an opportunity to teach all those in attendance how far into the human race his grace extends. To her credit, though a Gentile and outside of the Jewish faith, the woman knew something of God’s compassion, answering, “Yes Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” (v. 28)
There are many truths to draw from this verse, but let’s talk about the obvious one. On a bad day, do you ever feel like a dog in God’s house? Yes, of course, we know Christians are all children of God, as 1 John 3:1 so emphatically and wonderfully declares, but do you always feel that way? Due to shame or guilt over past sins or maybe even a bad day, many of us occasionally struggle with a full level of assurance in the Christian faith. No, it’s not ideal nor even theologically correct to see ourselves as mere pets in the household of God, but it does happen here and there to some of us.
Did Jesus rebuke the woman for seeing herself as merely a pet of heaven? No, he told her, “Because of this reply you may go. The demon has left your daughter.” (v. 29) It’s unlikely Jesus wants us to see ourselves as God’s furry friends, but due to our own frailty, sometimes we feel as if we’re the least worthy Christian. However, this Gentile mother’s perspective teaches us that even the lowliest feeling members of God’s family – yes, even that old hound dog – still eat from His table and walk away healed and blessed. Remember, it’s not our worth that gets us into the household of God, but Christ’s righteousness and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)