God’s Best Friend

The creation that we have been provided is both a testimony to man’s search for his Creator (Acts 17:24-27) and a visual lesson for man’s search for himself in that creation. The wisdom of scripture urges us to consider ants (Prov 6:6), dogs (Prov 26:11), rock badgers, locusts, lizards (Prov 30:24-28), the lilies of the field (Matt 6:26), or even the fowls of the air (Matt 6:28) in order that we may obtain wisdom ourselves. Not only the creation but also the creatures which inhabit it can teach us how to better seek and serve out Lord.

Let us then consider then the dog, not his questionable digestion habits (Prov 26:11), but its role as a beneficial companion. In the Old Testament eating a dog or touching its carcass would make one ritually unclean for a time (Lev 11:27-28), yet they seem to be present within the cities of the Israelites as work animals (Exo 22:31; Ps 68:23; Matt 15:26-27). Even in our culture today dogs are considered inedible by the majority of society, but the work animal is now considered “man’s best friend.”

I began to give consideration to my own “best friend” Jack, when I was attempting to get him accustomed to me as his new owner. Jack came to us at the age of two and Jack is not a small dog. He was however very friendly and in his own way doing his best to show us how much he appreciated all the care and attention we showered on him. At feeding time, however, he would begin to growl at me after I would finish pouring. In effect he was telling me to back off, and I would oblige him, because I empathized with Jack. I knew how hard it was to get used to a new owner. I too thought I knew better than the Lord and I would grumble and complain when the blessings and prosperity I thought were mine to keep, and how mad I would be when the Lord came to take them away (Prov 16:18; Luke 12:13-24).

This became a problem as sometimes things would get in his bowl that he shouldn’t eat, and sometimes when his bowl had a few bits left he wouldn’t let me refill it. But I knew he was trying to understand because his tail wagged even as he growled. And as he watched I would carefully return the bowl, with more food or with a treat, until the growling stopped and he only sat and wagged his tail as he waited for me to do whatever it was I was doing, trusting that whatever it was it would all be all right in the end.
As Christians, each of us desires to be God’s best friend. Which includes love (John 14:15), obedience (John 15:14), and trust (Isa 40:31). When something is taken from us, let us wait on the Lord, trusting him in obedience, realizing we are being prepared for something much more than the food of today, or the promotion of tomorrow (Rom 8:28-34). Let us set with untroubled tails wagging, knowing our best friend will never let us down (John 14:1-6).

– James M. Barnette

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The Statue of Responsibility

We are all familiar with the Statue of Liberty that is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.  The copper statue measures 305 feet and 1 inch from ground level to the torch.  To those seeking Liberty and the American way, she (Lady Liberty) is a welcome sight.  The Statue of Liberty is on the East Coast of the United States.  Some people want to build a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.  Long Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle are being considered for locations for this structure.  The 305 foot Statue of Responsibility would be much more than just a book-end to the Statue of Liberty.  The prototype of this proposed structure consists of a pair of clasped hands oriented vertically symbolizing the responsibility that comes with liberty.

The original idea of the Statue of Responsibility was the vision of world renowned Viennese psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who survived the holocaust and went on to publish the best-selling book Man’s Search for Meaning.  In this work, published in 1946, he expressed his vision like this:  “Freedom, however, is not the last word.  Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth.  Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness.  In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.  That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”

Dr. Frankl enjoyed his time spent in America and admired much about it.  But he took exception to what appeared to be a commonly accepted view of equating freedom with a license to do virtually anything one wants.

The concept of liberty and responsibility are not foreign to the Bible.  One can find the inscription on the Liberty Bell in Leviticus 25:10, “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”  In regards to spiritual liberty, Isaiah 61:1 is read by Jesus in the Synagogue in Nazareth Luke 4:17-19, “. . .The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.  He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”  This was fulfilled in Jesus.  In the above discussion of Liberty and responsibility- Viktor Frankl made a powerful observation that liberty is not a license to do anything one wants.  The concept that liberty is not a license is not new.  The apostle Paul penned these inspired words long before thoughts of a building the Statue of responsibility were conceived.  Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the Liberty by which Christ has made us free” and Galatians 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh. . .”  Physically we may look at the Statue of Liberty and be reminded of the responsibility of freedom.  Spiritually may we also look into the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25) and known we are set free from our bondage of sin through obedience to the gospel plan of salvation, not to do anything we please, but being mindful that with freedom comes responsibility.

– Michael Foresha