How many times have you, or have I, wanted a “Jesus with skin on?” Jesus here in the flesh to wrap His arms around us, to comfort us, to speak audibly to us?
This side of heaven, dogs may be the closest thing we get to this wish for “Jesus with Skin” on. Before you tie me to the stake and stoke the flames, let me explain. The irony of my thesis is that dogs are not highly regarded in Scripture, nor were they in the New Testament, nor in modern day Middle Eastern cultures. I seem to be a “dog-person.” I’ve always had a way with dogs. I have two dogs in my life, Padmé, who probably thinks she’s our child and Lily, who loves her Pappy, welcoming me with full-body wags when I come in the door.
This side of heaven, will we ever find such unconditional love as we find in a dog who loves us? Dogs are always happy to see us. A dog’s love for us does not seem to be predicated on how we feel about them. We can scold them one minute and have them come, tail wagging, the next minute, nuzzling our hands, wanting affection. Dogs don’t seem to care what type of day we’ve had or if we’re in a grumpy mood when we come home. They just love us. (On the other hand, we’re lucky to even get an acknowledgement that we’re home from a cat!) Their love for us is unconditional. I’ve yet to have known a dog that only loves me when I’ve met some condition. I know in my head that Jesus loves me unconditionally—He paid the price so that my sins are not counted against me—but most of the time, if I’m honest, I think it’s mostly ‘head-knowledge,’ not ‘heart-knowledge.’ So, it’s good to have dogs to remind me what unconditional love, imperfect as it is, looks like in the flesh.
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. —1 John 4.16b
Have you ever noticed that a dog’s temperature is just right? Their normal temperature is 101˚ and 102.5˚? Why is that? I think God made dogs that way so that to snuggle with them is comforting and soothing. They are just warm enough. Warm enough to warm us, heart and soul, on a cold rainy day or just on a day when the rest of the world seems cold and distant—just like I imagine Jesus would be if He were here in the flesh.