Cats and dogs are radically different beasts.
Perhaps you’ve heard this joke: Dogs say, “You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, you must be a god,” while cats say, “You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, I must be a god!”
Maybe that’s why God gives cats nine lives. They need a bit more grace for such foolish thinking. Nevertheless, a dog is loyal to a fault, protects the master, and loves to be petted. You call a dog by its name and it comes running, eager to lick you all over. A cat may hear its name but behaves indifferently. A feline will lick your toes and what’s left in the cereal bowl, but if you’re not necessary to that moment, you really don’t exist. A dog snoozes at your feet, but a cat sleeps on your head. A master can train a dog, but a cat trains his master.
You might say dogs need a lord while cats need an entourage.
Depending on your affection for dogs or cats, you may find these traits attractive or repulsive. And yet, many of us, especially at this time around his table, behave more like a cat. We drink from the cup and swallow the bread with little regard or reflection. We are preoccupied by what’s for lunch or where’s so-and-so. We allow critical thoughts about a song, a person, or an activity to control our mind. In a sense, we allow disunity and distraction to detour our worship.
Such things are not new temptations for Christians who gather for this ancient meal. Paul criticized the Corinthian congregation: “I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you” (1 Corinthians 11:17, 18). Division and double-mindedness are the nemesis to Communion. The Lord’s Supper, using ordinary elements that anyone can purchase, is a unity meal and a common feast for all believers.
And yet it’s an extraordinary, intimate, personal worship experience.
Do you approach this meal like a dog or cat? Are you relying upon grace or nine lives? Is Christ your Lord or just an entourage of many “gods” you’ve befriended? Do you long to lie at the Master’s feet or flick your tail and do it your own way? This meal is a pack meal. We are one church, gathered together with one purpose under one Lord through one baptism.
And maybe that’s also why God spelled backward is “dog.”
Rick Chromey is a motivational speaker, writer, and online professor with Hope International University, Fullerton, California.