UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
When I come home, Sadie (yellow lab) and Sasha (black lab) are excited. They race out to meet me. They hang out with me while I work on sermons or blog articles. They love to go in the “truck” for a ride. We have to be careful with certain words – truck, ball, or “go” – or things get pretty wild. The highpoint of their day is going to the woods to run or jump into the river. The highlight of their evening is to lay in front of the woodstove when my wife and I are in the living room. They hang out on the back porch, until one of us comes out. Then they romp and play and seem to have smiles on their faces. In other words, they just like being with us. To whatever extent a dog is capable of it – they love us.
I wish I had a whole herd of people friends like that. I don’t mean that they would chase my truck or do dog things, but simply that we could have a whole lot of people who just like to be with us. Because they love us. I think that this is one reason that abuse victims often tell me that one of the real solaces in their lives is or was having a pet. Animals can be real healers for traumatized people. Abusers know this – and this is a great evil. Abusers often are cruel to animals. I bet that if I asked and they could share, many readers of this blog would be able to tell stories of not only being comforted by their pets, but of the cruelty shown those animals by the abuser. Abusers, like the devil, hate what their victim loves, and anything or anyone that loves the victim.
The body of Christ is supposed to be something like Sadie and Sasha. I think that the real body of Christ is, but it is getting harder and harder to find. You know the theme song from the old TV show – Cheers? Cheers isn’t a church, but I have often thought that a place like Cheers is kind of the church of the unsaved man. And in some ways, it is a better fellowship than many professing Christian churches –
Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they are always glad you came.
Friends. That is what we need. People who love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart, mind and soul, and who love us. People you can be yourself around and still be comfortable that they won’t reject you, accuse you, judge you, or mess with your mind. They won’t abuse you. They love you.
Maybe tomorrow I will try to envision my whole congregation as a bunch of Labrador retrievers, sitting in the pews, smiles on their faces – “give us a treat, pastor! We love you!” Fortunately in most cases, I know that they do.