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The Need to Be Loved

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2016 19 May

a white dog peers intently at the viewer

One reason dogs make such great pets is that they have a no-holds-barred approach to love. Whenever I come home, my dog, Kallie, greets me as though I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to her. A more grateful, adoring dog you will not meet. She follows me around the house and insists on sleeping under my bed at night, just to be close to me. If dogs were capable of sinning, I’m sure their most common failing, more common even than shredding slippers or chasing cats, would be the sin of idol worship.

Of course, dogs don’t worship people because we’re so wonderful but because we have purposely bred traits of affection and loyalty into them. While that kind of relationship works well between dogs and humans, it’s a little over the top in our relationships with people. And most of us don’t expect or want that.

But some of us fall into the trap of craving the kind of universal love and acceptance that only exists between a boy and his dog. We can’t stand the thought that someone might not like us, so we do everything in our power to be accepted, wearing masks and telling half-truths when whole truths are required. Not wanting to rock the boat, we do our best to avoid conflict. But such behaviors don’t guarantee smooth sailing. Motivated by fear and not love, they lack the creative energy that is needed for finding real solutions to real problems.

Jesus was never one to smooth things over. Read the Gospels carefully and you will find the one we call the Prince of Peace more often disturbed the peace, speaking the truth when truth was called for. He did this because he had not come to bring a superficial brand of peace; he came to bring true shalom. As people who belong to him, we are called to have integrity, to do what is right regardless of what others may think. We need to aim at real peace, not the counterfeit kind that keeps us from experiencing all that God has for us.