Last summer I was fortunate to get a beautiful golden retriever puppy, Sunny, who is now seven months old. We are training her to be a therapeutic visitation dog. Yesterday Sunny and I had our first training session with our coach. Sharon uses positive reinforcement techniques to train a dog to remain attentive by its master’s side, constantly looking to its master for cues on what to do and how to behave throughout the day.
As we went through our training exercises together, I was struck by the similarities between the skills Sunny needs to learn and how we are to live as followers of Christ. Sunny learned “watch me” – she has to maintain regular eye contact with me whenever we are together. Then came “take it” and “leave it” – she now has boundaries about which things are good for her to take (dog treats and her toys) and which items she should ignore (sneakers and dirty socks are at the top of that list). Her main job, however, is to remember that I’m her master and she needs to take her cues from me. Sunny belongs to me, but sometimes she forgets and tries to direct my behaviour instead of letting me be in charge.
As Christians living in a hyperactive world, sometimes we need to pause and remember that we belong to God, not the other way around. Our job is to watch Jesus at work around us and join him in what he is doing, not to go our own way and do our own thing. We need to be attentive to the things in our lives that are good for us to take and the things we should leave behind.
In Hebrews 12 the Apostle Paul gives us the proper perspective:
And let us… fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:2)
We belong to him.