Mike the Cat – An Allegory

Years ago I had a really laid back black and white cat named Mike. I’ve never really been a cat person but this cat was cool. He was so cool that he got along with everyone even dogs. While neighborhood cats fought in the street at night, Mike stayed home and ignored all the drama. Dogs would chase the street fighting cats during the day. They would simply sniff Mike.

They were never quite sure what to make of him.

Each day I would return home from work to find Mike standing quietly by his food bowl in calm almost polite expectation of being fed. One day a scrawny kitten showed up just as Mike began to eat. The kitten stood staring as Mike ate then abruptly smacked him in the head. Mike stepped back stunned as the sad little thing started eating his food. I watched in quiet amusement. Mike looked like a gentle giant next to the scruffy ball of fur. This same scene played out every day for at least a week. Part of me began to anthropomorphize Mike. To be honest I felt convicted as I watched him turn the other cheek. Was he praying as he was being despitefully used?

Other times I wondered if Mike wasn’t just dumb.

One day the kitten walked in, smacked Mike in the head, and proceeded to consume all of his food. Everything looked the same as Mike stood calmly by. Only this time he ever so slowly lifted a paw that was nearly the same size as the scruffy little kitten’s head. Then calmly dropped it smashing it’s little face down into the bowl. His demeanor never changed. He remained calm and there was absolutely no sound as he held the struggling ball of fur down and just as abruptly let it go. Needless to say, the kitten didn’t fight. It just ran away. I heard barking and hissing and gnashing teeth in the street as it went. I never saw the little kitten again.

Mike disappeared a few weeks later.

I never saw him again.

“If you dance with the devil the devil doesn’t change, the devil changes you.”

– Neal Wagatsuma-

We are all being gaslit.

Matthew 26:52-53,

John 18:36 and Col 3

Maranatha!

Better than Nineveh

Most Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled and therefore were not written directly to us, or about us. Nevertheless, many of us like to cherry-pick and incorporate selected verses for ourselves. We love the assurance of verses like Jeremiah 29:11 originally addressed to Israel. We apply significance to ourselves with verses like Isaiah 61:1 even though it’s about Jesus in Luke 4:18-19 declaring his identity in the temple 700 years later. Granted these verses continue to edify us regarding God’s unchanging character, plan, and purpose. Even so, why do we only apply the warm fuzzy words instead of hard ones like Jeremiah 14 or Isaiah 5:20?

Why not Nahum?

Approximately one hundred fifty years after its collective repentance and subsequent reprieve as a result of Jonah’s obedience, Nineveh was back in the biblical judgment news.

While Nahum was clear that “The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” Nah 1:7 like any true prophet he was also clear that God isn’t playing games and “reserves wrath for His enemies.” Nah 1:2

Still the question remains; who are His enemies?

He is clear in his rebuke and declaration of God’s judgment. Nineveh had become a nation of many races and was sustained by greed. Substance abuse was rampant. Nah 1:9-10 There was violence in the streets, leaders plotted against the Lord and looting abounded in all its forms. Nah 2:9

But looting was not limited to rioters in the streets. Nahum describes Nineveh’s leaders as “swarming locusts, and grasshoppers”. Nahum 3:17 Grasshoppers and locusts pillage and never produce. They disappear in the light of the sun.

As in the days of Jeremiah who rebuked the lying prophets for their ear-tickling positivity and their claims that God said things that He never did, Jerm 14:13-15 the people of Nineveh had become complacent and perhaps oppositional. Apparently, they thought they were immune to God’s judgments. To which Nahum replies,

“Are you better than populous (Thebes)?…” “…(who) “was carried away, into captivity”. Nah 3:8-10

While his meaning may not have been quite as literal as the interpretation might be today, Nahum declares,

“Your people (men) have become women” the gates of your land are open to your enemies.” Nah 3:13

And finally

“Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; Your nobles rest in the dust. Your people are scattered on the mountains, And no one gathers them.” Nah 3:18

There are a lot of ear-tickling, positivity prophets, and preachers these days. Almost all of them are declaring that “sword and famine shall not touch our land” and that peace and assurance shall abound. Jer 14:13 They minister to individual self-esteem at the expense of salvation and stoke the flames of personal significance instead of fear of our God who is a consuming fire. Heb 12:29

All declare an imminent revival.

Few call for repentance.

Everyone loves them. Everyone speaks well of them. Luke 6:26

The Bible is ultimately the most positive and hopeful message mankind has ever seen. Yet it is a conditional one. It’s time frame is eternal. It demands we abandon our ways and become set apart (Holy). This process begins with repentance from sin. Apart from this, no message, no word, no action on our part means a thing.

If you compare the state of the world today with the likeness of Israel back then; what do you see? Do you see a pleased God declaring Jeremiah 29:11 over society at large or do you see Isaiah 5:20 and Jeremiah Chapter fourteen?

Given that God’s character, plan, and purpose do not change and Ecc 1:9 explains that history repeats; why would anyone believe that it won’t repeat now?

What does true love look like in the context of today?

What kind of messages do people really need?

If one old testament prophecy can be appropriated today, then all can be be appropriated.

Nineveh was overrun and destroyed.

Are we better than Nineveh?

Our True Condition

One thing that blocks knowledge and understanding is the narcissistic tendency among fallen humans to interpret the bible as being about them personally.  While it most definitely was written for us, it was not written to, or about us.  That can be a hard sell in the church of the eternal self.

Luke 15 contains three parables, the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. People tend to view each parable separately and then make all sorts of inferences, usually about themselves. Contemporary culture and songs like Reckless Love that glorify our self-assigned, inherent value in God’s eyes along with its adoption as a false biblical justification for social uprisings have made the parable of the Lost Sheep a recent favorite.

The cross is the only complete and genuine example of reckless love and it serves as proof that absolutely all lives matter to God. However, Luke 15 is not about individual significance or social justice.

In the parable of the lost sheep, the Shepard loses one out of ninety-nine sheep which amounts to one percent of his wealth. In the parable of the lost coin, the woman loses ten percent. Jesus clarifies that the lost sheep and the found coin both represent a sinner who repents, over whom Heaven rejoices.  The earthly value is irrelevant as God rejoices equally over one percent as He does over ten.

In the parable of the prodigal son the father loses fifty percent of his wealth. In this case, his lazy, impatient, obstinate, disrespectful, ungrateful, and entitled son gets in his face and demands to receive what he deserves before his father dies. Long story short, his eventual repentance is the fruit of his receiving exactly what he deserves.

The point of all three parables is found in the character of the eldest son who sees himself as righteous and good and therefore more deserving of a fatted calf than his brother. The petty and carnally minded elder brother has zero understanding of his father’s heart let alone what is valuable. His twisted perception of righteousness is nothing more than the fruit of his own narcissism.

Luke 15 is a declaration and celebration of the value and importance of repentance. Viewing ourselves, as lost sheep, lost coins, or prodigal sons amidst our salvation and abundant blessings for which we all tend to be ungrateful at times only confirms our true condition as spoiled, self-righteous, and entitled children.

As for those who view the Parable of the Lost Sheep as representing an oppressed people group on whose behalf, they are divinely appointed to advocate and thereby cast themselves in the role of Shepard or Messiah; these are among the lost sheep whose repentance God desires. Of course, narcissism is blinding and Jesus warned there would be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

It would behoove all of us and especially those consumed with God’s love for themselves and those obsessed with social justice to remember that we are all born deserving absolutely nothing but death, and eternal torment in Hell. Our purpose on earth is to become righteous. Our only righteousness is the righteousness of Christ. Romans 3 Our only hope is in Christ and Him Crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 And while justice is getting what one deserves, and mercy is not getting it; grace means getting what we do not deserve.  

Our receiving it is contingent upon our recognition of our true condition.

Nice v.s. Loving

Traditionally it was offensive for a Jew to eat with a Gentile. In Galatians 2 Paul publicly rebukes Peter for his spineless hypocrisy and what amounted to politically correct conformity when he rejected the gentiles with whom he had previously eaten and taught to eat with some Jews who came on the scene. Of course, cowardice was Peter’s primary character defect. In this case, the resulting error was in his reversion to man’s terms rather than God’s. Cowardice caused his desire to please man to exceed his willingness to obey God.

People often dismiss us as harmless quacks when we tell them God loves them or ask if they need prayer. Some may quietly despise us. Yet most will not expend the energy to actually abuse us.

People love to be told how lovable they are. It is easy and even enjoyable to explain that God loved them so much that He gave us His only son so we could live eternally in heaven with Him. John 3:16 Explaining that they are actually His enemies until we are reconciled to Him Rom 5:10, that this reconciliation only happens according to His terms, not ours and that it doesn’t matter how good we are as compared to others Luke 13:1-5 is an entirely different matter.

The popular idea that the only requirement for salvation is our acceptance of Jesus into our hearts is an example of man’s terms.

Accepting that we are His enemies bound for hell and who need to be accepted by Him are God’s terms. While the statement that “God loves the sinner and hates the sin” is true. Nevertheless, it is our chosen disposition toward sin that determines our disposition in eternity.

God’s terms are that we change our thinking and behavior. Rom 12:1-2. Our hearts (emotions) can never be trusted. Jer 17:9 Therefore we need God’s word to guide us 1 Tim 3:15-17 in order to discern true from false. 2 Tim 2:15.

The idea that every human being is inherently evil rather than good and therefore eternally damned makes people angry. That Jesus is the only way of escape and that escape is conditional makes them homicidal.

In Acts 14 Paul is stoned by Jews who had pursued him from Antioch to Lystra. Believing him to be dead they dragged his body outside the city gates. Naturally, the disciples gathered around him, probably to mourn. Then Paul gets up, dusts himself off, and goes back into the city to pick up where he left off.

It is always easier and more pleasing to others when we are nice. It is easy to be loving when people are nice.

At the end of the day there is no love apart from Truth.

What sounds nice may not be loving.