We have routines, schedules that we tend to follow as we move through life. We recently found a dog for Janet’s aunt in Oklahoma. We will keep it about a month to insure that it is ready to transition to the home of a woman who has never had an inside dog but desires a companion.
Hershal is the dog’s name. He doesn’t know it yet, but that is what he is stuck with. We are trying to discover his routines. When does he need to eat, how long before he needs to go out? How long does he need to stay out?
Because the aunt is deaf, we are trying to teach Hershal new routines, to bark when someone comes to the door, or when the phone rings. He has to learn to sit, to lay down, and basically pay attention. All new routines.
Hershal came with some natural things, his own biological clock, but has to learn some new things to be effective and helpful.
It is that way for all of us. Many people start out nice enough. They don’t pillage, rape and murder like marauding Vikings. That however is not enough to make them people of God.
Christlikeness is a learned behavior that requires both the removal of some habits and the acquisition of other habits. However, if one stops here there is a huge void of character. Fundamentally, what Jesus demonstrated to us was a love of God. He prayed, not because it was required but because he desired to speak with the Father. He did good things, not to be popular, but to demonstrate the nature of God. He avoided participation in sin, not for his reputation, but because he loved pleasing the Father.
Like followers of Christ, Hershal has a lot to learn. He needs to know the things that makes a dog a house dog. He has to learn some routines of a disciplined life. But Hershal will fail in a tragic level if he learns all of these routines but never learns to love his new owner. It isn’t enough to be well behaved, one must engage the world in a loving and appropriate manner.
Christians who do the right things but don’t love and engage those around them never really are very helpful.