Not the image of God!
Meet Schubert. He's pretty cute, in a gremlinish way. Now I know that "dog" is the mirror image of "god", but Schubert is nobody's co-pilot and we can all raise our voices in thanksgiving that he is not created in the image of God. I shudder to think of a world created and ruled by the likes of him!
Schub is the brunt of a lot of jokes around here. We can get away with that because the only English words he understands besides his name are "Do you need to go potty?" "Sit," "Down", and I think he understands "No!" though he doesn't always obey that one. He also rolls on his back with a big smile and his tongue lolling out if you point your fingers like a gun and pretend to shoot him. He agrees to do this because it always ends in his belly getting rubbed. Truth be told, no one who knows Schubert would argue with me if I said, "Schubert's god is his belly." It's the plain truth and I've never encountered another creature who is so obvious about it. Schub has two primary goals in life (he had a third, but the vet took care of that other one): to have his belly filled and to have his belly rubbed.
"Look out for the dogs... their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things...." (Phil. 3:2a,19b)Now, Paul, in his letter is not really speaking of dogs. He's using the term "dogs" to describe those early legalists known as the Judaizers. No doubt they did not think of themselves as worldly. They were convinced they were more spiritual than the rest, bringing in the Law to those "lawless" gentile Christians. The apostle did not agree. But it's not really in my mind today to discuss legalists. What I've got on my mind is sin, I mean, what is sin anyway? I know the common response is "disobedience to God" or "rebellion". I don't argue that those are sins, but what is at the heart of those. What on earth (good pun, but unintended) would lead a person to rebel? God created mankind in His image - no small honor. Really, what could be loftier? What more could we want?
Well, we can want the one thing in our world we haven't been given. And isn't that pretty much what we are always so inclined to want? Of course, back in the Garden days we weren't so inclined to want that one thing, because we had all we needed already, and then some, and had been told not to want it by God, whose word was good enough for us back then. But, in that Garden was a tempter who already knew the dark pleasure and the emptiness of rebellion, and whose great desire now was to lead a fledgling race which bears the image of his hated Enemy into that rebellion with him. What a coup it would be to take little images of God and make them into his own likeness, and lower. These beings were made of the earth, the same earth that brought forth the animals. If these beings could be made to rebel against the God who created them, to lose the spiritual life He'd breathed into the lungs of their souls, well, what would be left would be little more than animal life. Or maybe the Enemy really did expect his trickery to lead to the instant death of these little images of God. I wonder if he was surprised to see them continue to live and breath, sewing leaves together in their hidey-hole, and even more surprised when God not only didn't kill them but sacrificed animals to give them better clothes to hide under.
But I think I've strayed away from my point. What would lead such a noble creature to rebel? He wouldn't rebel for the joy of rebelling. He had no experience with such a feeling. No, it would have to be a legitimate desire perverted. Ultimately it was his belly that won out, abetted by the spiritual-sounding excuse that to eat would make him godly. His belly wanted that fruit more than it wanted God, and so that belly became its god. So mankind lowered his/herself to the level of dogs, and the devil was pleased. Aside from death, what baser fate could he wish upon creatures that remind him at every glance of the God he hates? What satisfaction he no doubt derives from seeing God's images behaving like Schubert. And for all these years we've continued the tradition of using godliness as an excuse to fill our "bellies" - a blasphemy little Schubert wouldn't dream of.
But let me finish with this: I mean no insult to dear little Schub. My husband will not let me get by with lowering his special little pet to the level of a sinner. It is, after all, no sin whatsoever for him to behave as he does. He's a dog. He's doing exactly what he was made to do and operating exactly within the nature God gave him. Schubert is a foul but affectionate little brute, which is just as God created him to be. Schubert is not a sinner; I am. And in that sense he is a finer individual than me.