Saving My Dog, by John Frye
Let’s have a little fun on All Saints’ Eve. The other day I was reading the grand vision of the renovated cosmos (cf. Revelation 21-22) to Mia, my Shi Tzu Maltese. Mia listened intently and with some amount of awe at the spectacular reunion of heaven and earth. Eventually, I got to verse 15 of Revelation 22; “Outside are the dogs…” Mia’s head popped up and she exhaled a sharp puppy whine. Her eyes went big and forlorn. I was cut to the heart and troubled by the deep hurt in her sorrowful eyes.
In puppy syllables Mia asked me, “Why? Why are the dogs outside this amazing reunion of heaven and earth? Why am I, a dog, lumped in with the sorcerers and the immoral, the murderers and idolaters? I want to be in, not out. I am a good dog.”
I responded, “You are a good dog, Mia, but are you saved? Have you accepted Jesus into your heart?”
Mia rolled her eyes at me as if to suggest, “Of course, Big Human-in-Charge, I am definitely a Christian dog.”
“But are you following Jesus day by day?” I asked. “It’s not enough to lean only on some past decision. Jesus recruits disciples, learners, apprentices. He is not impressed with mere past decisions made to escape hell. ‘When Jesus calls someone, he bids them come and die.’”
There he goes quoting Bonhoeffer again, Mia mused. She began to make many low-toned grunts and woofs and almost barks. I listened with my will behind my ears because I did not want to miss even the slightest of Mia’s response. She was adamant. She reported, “Jesus told me that if I wanted to be his follower, I had to take up my leash daily and follow him. I wasn’t free anymore to roam here and there, but had to heel at his command. Many delicious bones are laid up in heaven for me as I follow him here.”
I smirked. “So, you’re just following Jesus for the reward, eh?” She looked stunned. “You’re in it just for what you can get out of it. C’mon, admit it. Some Christian canine you are.”
Mai raised up on her two front legs and put her face right up to mine. “Oh, yeah, Big Human. So, what are you in it for? You can’t even stay in the leash much less take up your cross. Don’t go lecturing me on dogship, or as you say, discipleship. Think about it. I come when you call me; I go poop when you let me out; I greet you happily when you come home. I am getting better when you command ‘Heel!’ I’ll put my dogship up against your discipleship any day.”
Mia had me. I reached out to pat her head and rub her back. “Don’t touch me,” she snarled. “You tell me why the dogs are on the outside of the new Jerusalem. I think that is grossly prejudicial. I do love Jesus by loving people, people like you, Big Human, who is more talk than obedience.”
I had to come clean with Mia. I said, “Mia, the term ‘dogs’ in Revelation 22:15 is not literally about the canine species.
It’s a figure of speech; a term for those who go their own way, even their own religiously committed way. It refers to people who not only by-pass the wonder of the person and redemptive work of Jesus the Christ, but are hostile to Jesus and the Way. They become like senseless, vicious animals.”
Mia gasped. A happy light glinted in her eyes. “Hey, watch it there, Big Human. I am a dog and I love Jesus. I am not a senseless animal. And certainly not vicious. Yay, I’m in!”
“OK, Mia, I’ll see you in the new Jerusalem,” I said. She yawned and laid her head in my lap and went to sleep. I heard her low-toned, concerned growl as she dozed off, “Yeah, but will I see you?”