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An Article by Joel Allen
Ever since I can remember I have always been a part of a church to some degree. As a small child I grew up falling asleep on the pews at late night prayer meetings. I remember the sights and sounds of worship and prayers. As I grew older my family was a part of several different Christian churches. I have seen church splits, family feuds, and church politics at it’s very worst. About 8-9 years ago we left the Christian church to pursue the “messianic” way of studying and walking out the scriptures. I thought the politics and fighting and drama would finally end. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I was deeply disappointed to find that this issue existed in the Messianic circles as well. Clearly this was a human problem and not a denominational one. Everywhere I turned it seemed everyone was fighting like cats and dogs not loving their neighbors as themselves.
I began to think recently about that popular idiom in our culture, “fighting like cats and dogs.” So immersed in our culture, this idiom became a popular movie, posing the dogs as the loyal protectors of mankind and the cats as the evil nemesis trying to take over the world. This silent battle went on without humans knowing what was going on for the most part but the movie certainly painted a great picture of the key differences between dogs and cats. Now my purpose in this article is not to take sides with one animal group over another or offend cat lovers or dog lovers. My family has had lots of pets ranging from horses to dogs and cats to even alpacas. I personally am a dog person although I do enjoy the antics of cats. However through the years I have noticed extreme differences between the species that probably spurred on the creation of the idiom, “fighting like cats and dogs.”
I also recently noticed that believers carry the same characteristics as cats and dogs and this could be the reason why there is so much turmoil in the body of Messiah at large. So let’s have a little fun and look at some key differences between dogs and cats and see how this effects the Body of Messiah. More importantly ask yourself which characteristic you may possess and pray about how this may be helping or hurting your brothers and sisters in Messiah.
- Dogs generally are more loyal than cats:
Let’s face it dogs are considered “man’s best friend” for a reason. They are loyal to their owners while cats by in large do not show the characteristics of loyalty. There are plenty of movies about dogs and their incredible loyalty and so many inspirational stories of dogs sticking by their owners even in extreme situations. When the going gets tough dogs will stay by their owners but the same cannot be said about cats (remember these are generalizations. I know there are always amazing exceptional stories out there). Which characteristic do you mostly possess? Be brutally honest. How many times have you played the cat role and maybe left a congregation or fellowship when the circumstances got rough. Do you run at the first sign of disagreement? In the Hebrew roots circles we have people fighting like cats and dogs about the right calendar, how to pronounce the name of the Lord (oops I said Lord), how and when to celebrate the Biblical Feasts, and so much more. At the first sign of trouble we tuck tail and run instead of remaining loyal to our leadership and/or families we convocate with. Loyalty in fellowships is few and far between these days. We have too many cats and not enough dogs, if you know what I mean. Okay moving on…
- Dogs will protect and defend their masters even to the point of death:
Other than a few Youtube videos showing cats attacking predators on behalf of small children, cats generally are not known for defending their masters. In fact, they are built and wired to escape quickly and silently. Dogs bark loud and make a lot of noise warning any potential predators to beware. This can sometimes be mistaken for being insensitive or that the dog is mean spirited especially to guests that haven’t gotten to know the dog yet. Congregations and fellowships need more dogs that will prefer one another and protect one another instead of silently disappearing when there is a sign of danger or disagreement.
- Dogs are trainable while cats remain resistant to learning new things:
Are you trainable? Can you receive correction? Dogs can receive training and correction while cats seem to refuse any sort of training whatsoever. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 12:1, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Don’t be stupid (I didn’t say it the Bible did), be like a dog and receive training and correction and you will be knowledgeable and wise. Proverbs 15:32 “Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” Especially in Messianic circles it seems there is a resistance to leadership especially pastors or shepherds. It’s a shame that pastors/shepherds are a gift to the congregation to bring correction and discipline yet they are replaced by conferences and teachers. We need teachers but we also need shepherds. Have you ever seen a cat shepherd a flock of sheep? But you have seen dogs that shepherd sheep and they do it quite well. Dogs love correction because they know the rewards that follow. Cats seek only the rewards.
- Dogs are pack oriented while cats are solitary animals:
Do you seek fellowship with others or are you a loner? Dogs are pack hunters and thrive in a pack or group environment while cats prefer to be alone. Now I have to admit that I am someone that prefers to be in solitude but the Spirit of God within me provokes me to seek fellowship and some of the most powerful experiences with God’s presence have been in group corporate worship. This is when the Body comes together and the Gifts and Callings of God start to work dynamically as the Spirit wills. Hebrews 10:25 ” Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Dogs will be at services as often as the doors are open because they are stronger together and they recognize it. Cats will resist fellowshipping probably making up crazy doctrine that supports being alone.
- Dogs are incredible for finding the lost and discerning danger:
Notice policeman and bomb squads use dogs and not cats to smell out missing persons or potential bomb threats. Airports even can use dogs to sniff out drugs but cats not so much. Dogs have been known to track missing people in mountains and forests for miles. It doesn’t matter if it is in a blizzard or monsoon, they are tenacious and unrelenting in their search for the lost. When was the last time you talked to a stranger about God? Do you turn your nose up like a cat and go in solitude or are you relentless like a dog in pursuit of a lost child? That dog doesn’t care if the lost person smells bad or pronounces the name of our Messiah differently, it will never stop until the master calls off the search. Can we say the same about us? Are we cats, too busy licking our own wounds or are we like dogs passionately in pursuit of the lost? A little fun fact for you; a police trained Doberman Pinscher was recorded tracking a thief over 100 miles across the Great Karroo in South Africa by scent alone. Wow talk about relentless!
- Dogs can be trained to help those in need
Have you ever heard of a “seeing eye cat?” Of course not! But you have heard of a “seeing eye dog” because dogs of various breeds are trained on a regular basis to help people with disabilities. Dogs act as a guide for the blind, an encourager for the depressed, ears for the deaf, an alert for various illnesses like seizure disorders. Dogs or I should say “working dogs” can be trained to retrieve items that someone with a disability may not be able to. Some working dogs can be trained to help those with walkers, wheelchairs, or crutches and can be used to bring balance for unsure walkers. Cats do not apply. I have never seen “working cats.” Are you like working dogs, helping those in need. Are you a guide for the blind or a help to bring balance to those that are struggling or do you have more catlike characteristics and would rather not get involved?
Here are some characteristics of cats that should bring the point home:
- Cats are finicky- It seems very difficult to please cats sometimes. Are you that way? Are you constantly picking out what is wrong instead of rolling up your sleeves and helping? If you are like a cat, no fellowship seems to fit you as you always seem to find fault in everyone and everything.
- Cats like attention & love only on their terms- Does this sound familiar? All of us want love and friendship but cats will only seek such things on their terms. Do you act the same way? Some of us only show love and friendship when we want something or when it is convenient. Proverbs 18:24 says “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly:” The Bible also says that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Prov. 17:17) The Bible seems to uphold more of the dog-like characteristic of friendship and love.
It is obvious through this small overview of the difference between cats and dogs that we need a lot more dogs. We need believers that are loyal and protect their fellow brethren. We need believers that want to come together and fellowship, especially on the Sabbaths and Feasts. We need believers that are passionately relentless for reaching the lost and helping those in need. Why are we fighting like cats and dogs? The cats among us need to recognize their catlike traits and repent…except for the obvious trait of potty training faster than dogs. No seriously! I find it fascinating to know that domesticated cats more than likely came from Egypt about 4,000 years ago. In fact, ancient Egyptians worshiped cats not dogs. Isn’t it interesting that Israel was delivered from Egypt and the whole struggle through the wilderness was to get those catlike characteristics (Egypt) out of Israel. Even up to the Jordan, when Israel was faced with entering into the Land of Promise, the cat dominant traits came out. The relentless working dog would believe and heed the orders of the Master but the cats would rather nap in the wilderness for 40 years. Remember it was one person in particular that YHVH said had a different spirit in him. This one person possessed the right “dog-like” characteristics when all others (besides Joshua) would rather go back to cat worshiping Egypt! Have you guessed who it was yet? His name was Caleb. Do you know what the name means in Hebrew? Caleb is Strong’s Number H3612 and means, “Dog.”[Num 14:24 KJV] 24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.