Are you a cat person or a dog person? This is a question that is popular on first dates as you’re getting to know your (maybe) soon-to-be significant other. On the surface, this question seems harmless, but as I’ve started to think about this question as of late, I’m realizing the deep theological implications this question holds. I say this because, the other day, a comic popped up on my Facebook page with two slides. In the first slide was a dog, saying, “They feed me, give me a home, and love me unconditionally. They must be God.” In the other slide was a cat, saying, “They feed me, give me a home, and love me unconditionally. I must be God.” Admittedly, this is a humorous sentiment, but it also raises an interesting question worth our pondering as God’s Children: What is our perception of ourselves in regard to those things that have been given to us, whether it be talents, health, life, financial riches, or anything else? Additionally, how quick are we to give thanks to God for the things we have, or are we faster to say or think things like “I deserve this”?
Admittedly, this is taking the initial question in a whole different direction than it is initially intended (I realize that), but it is nonetheless important for us to reconsider this question weekly, if not daily. In the case of my reinterpretation, a “dog person” would be a person who would be grateful for everything they have received, able to see God’s hand at work in all things. Good things happen, and they are quick to thank God for said blessing. When bad things happen, they are able to see it as a necessary part of life, thanking God for Their presence and guidance during those times of trial we all face. While there may be some approaching of God for the meeting of wants and/or needs, those requests are balanced (if not outweighed) by those praises for what has been so graciously given already. In other words, a dog person is one who, out of an abundance of humility, is able to relate everything back to God.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, then, is the “cat person.” This type of person has very little focus on God save when it really matters most. They view their talents as of their own making. The good that happens to them is the fruits of their own labor whereas the bad, if not being some form of divine retribution, is the consequences of their own poor decisions. If this person approaches God, it is out of desire for having their own wants and needs met. They want something good to befall them, and thus pray for God to shower them with good luck, fortune, power, etc. When something bad happens, they pray to God only to scold God for intervening in what they may perceive as being their own good work. In such prayers, the focus remains on the pray-er, with very little (if any) acknowledgement of past or present blessings. In short, everything relates back to the self and God is just a player in enhancing/exalting that self. God is therefore lost to one’s own ego.
So, with these two definitions in mind, we return then to that initial question. Granted, no person is perfectly to one side or the other (as is the case in all things). We all have our moments of being dog people, of turning to God in the good and the bad, knowing that God is present in all things and in all life’s circumstances. These are often brought on by being reminded of our calling through Christ and the Bible to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). However, due to Sin’s hold on humanity and our inability to truly break away from that nature inside us all, we all have our days where we are cat people, too. We congratulate ourselves for a job well done, pat ourselves on the back, and feel deserving of honor, praise, glory (whatever word you choose) from others. This exalted view of our selves, though, gets in the way of our being able to see God’s hand in those circumstances. Nonetheless, we have this eternal struggle within ourselves between our “dog” and “cat” sides; a fight that God will see us through if we only let Them, but one we cannot hope to win if we choose to fight this battle alone. Thus, it’s worth asking ourselves each day: Which are you; a cat person or a dog person, and is that who you want to be?
-Pastor Brad Rito