The Danger of Familiarity

Our dog is a Great Dane.  Having him has helped me conclude that he has something to teach me spiritually.  After 4 years, I have gotten used to his size.  It seems odd when

Our Dog

Our Dog

people encounter him and say, “Wow, that’s a really big dog!” or  “Do you have a saddle for him?” (I hear that one a lot!)  At 137, he just seems normal to me.  As Great Danes go, he’s not very big.  I’ll sometimes call him a ‘mini-Great Dane.’

The other day when I was walking him I thought to myself, “If we ever get another dog, I want a really big one.”  I have become used to his size.  But even though I am used to his size, not everyone else is.  As an interim pastor I move around a bit.  We have discovered that landlords don’t want big dogs in their houses or apartments.  Actually the little 7-pound dogs we’ve had have been much more challenging to train.  Although I think he is no danger, others do.  I see him as normal; others are startled by his size.

Zeus (245 lb.)

Zeus (245 lb.)

What does that have to do with us spiritually?  I think two things.  First, I am reminded of how comfortable we get with our sins.  We lose perspective on how damaging sin is to others.  It is like the old ‘Hatfield & McCoy’ feuds.  I get hurt, so I hurt back and then dismiss my behavior by thinking, “We all have flat tires!”  I need to be reminded regularly that sin (even if I just call it a flat tire) separates me from God and His work in my life.  It is not something I should become comfortable with but something I must vigilantly fight off if I am to become what God wants me to be.

Secondly, I can lose perspective on who God is.  I am sure our president’s children mostly think of him as ‘dad.’  I am grateful that God has invited us to call Him “Abba” (or ‘daddy’).  However, I never want to forget that He is the King of Kings, the creator of all that is.  There is none greater and I want to remember that this God who has approached me in Jesus Christ is the one before whom Isaiah said, “Woe is me” when he saw God (Is. 6:1-5).  I need to be reminded that the only way I can approach Him in His holiness is by the sacrifice of Jesus, the Christ.  That is a perspective I never want to lose.

I hope my Great Dane helps me remember that I can get too comfortable in my sin.  I need to see it for the horrific thing it is and work diligently to rid myself of it by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit.  I also hope this dog prompts me to remember that God is the incredible king of the universe and I am so privileged even to be in His presence.

I don’t want to get too familiar with things so that I lose a sense of the truth.

russ-signature copy


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s