If you have not read the two previous posts, “God in a Box” and “God in a Bottle,” I would encourage you to do so before reading this post.
This friend of mine once told me that he got a new dog. I was kind of surprised about his new pet, so I started asking questions about the dog. I found out it was a some breed of dog I had never heard of and that it loved to run with him. I still wondered why my friend had bought a new dog. After all, he travelled a lot and I didn’t know what he was going to do with the dog while he was away from home. So finally I just bluntly asked him, “Dude, why in the world did you get this dog?”
His answer surprised me. “Well, he likes to go running with me so I always take him to the park or the beach and I have found it’s a great way to meet women.” At that point in my life I had been married for a number of years and I just wasn’t quite sure what my single friend was talking about, so I asked him for more information. He explained, “Whenever I have that dog on a leash, women are constantly coming up to me, asking about the dog, wanting to pet him. It’s the best way to draw women to you. They think you are sensitive when you have a dog.”
So my friend’s new pet, which he led around on a leash, was merely a ploy to impress people. He fed the dog, groomed the dog, provided medical care for the dog, and boarded the dog when he was gone from home for long stretches of time and he did it all so that he could appear sensitive to women.
As I reflect on how people view God I have to say, there are some people whose relationship with God seems very similar to my friend’s relationship with his dog.They are willing to put up with the inconveniences of God as long as they can walk around with “God on a Leash.” God on display.
To be more honest, what a great way to put yourself on display while all the time making people think you are interested in displaying God. What a great tactic to make people think about you what you want them to think. After all, when they see you walking around with God displayed on a leash, they will be impressed.
“God on a Leash” can be a great way to make people think you are a great guy — moral, spiritual, and even safe. When they see you out walking Him, when they see you pat him on the head, when they see the tricks you have taught Him, they surely will be impressed with your. . . religion. They may want to ask you about Him. They may want to know more about you. She may even give you her phone number.
The best thing about “God on a Leash” is that, just as with “God in a Box” and “God in a Bottle,” you control God. He goes where you want Him to go. He does what you want Him to do. There are no surprises, everything is under control, your control.
Sometimes it seems as though the Pharisees walked “God on a Leash.” Everything they did was for people to see. They wanted people to see them. They wanted people to be impressed by them. They wanted to project an image by the clothes they wore with all the religious accessories they could find. And whenever God pulled hard on the leash, they would tighten up on that leash and choke Him down with their traditions. So, to them for example, the Sabbath was “the Lord of God.”
But it’s not just the Pharisees who try to keep “God on a Leash.” As someone once said, we often use the Pharisees as whipping boys when we should be using them as mirrors. I confess to you that I have seen myself in them, a clear reflection. Do you?
Do you ever want people to think highly of you? Do you ever want people to make positive remarks about something you have done? Do you ever want them to take notice of you? Do you ever want them to give compliments to you? Do you ever want people to think you are spiritual by showing them your religion? Have you ever hijacked a sermon into being all about you? Have you ever hoped to impress others with words that were supposedly spoken to God? Have you ever wanted people to recognize you for your generosity? Have you ever allowed your religion or even your ministry to be about you rather than God?
We need to unleash God. We need to stop using Him for our benefit. We need to embrace the notion of losing ourselves that He might be glorified.
Forgive me for the times I have wanted to be seen so badly that I used You to accomplish my mission.
Cleanse my heart of unclean motives.
May there be more of You and less of me.
In Jesus’ name,
Tomorrow: God on the Throne