Let me introduce you to my brother’s dog, Barkley. He’s a white maltese-shih-tzu cross with big black eyes and a cute little underbite. His favourite hobbies include chasing his rope, running laps around the living room and howling at sirens. Don’t be fooled by his “so fluffy I’m going to die” appearance, though. Barkley may look cuddly on the outside but he’s a carnivore on the inside.
And he poops . . . a lot.
That’s not even an overstatement. One time on a short “walkie” his droppings required three rubbish bags. Then there’s the backyard, which can quickly turn into a minefield if it’s not regularly patrolled. The worst of the worst is when it rains and his poop turns into a soggy mash of . . . ahem . . . anyways, let’s just say it’s pungent and unpleasant to clean up.
So, poop. Probably not the conversation topic you were expecting to step into today. While it may be disgusting to talk about, I don’t think it’s inappropriate. References to dung can be found throughout the Bible. One such passage in particular recently caught my attention.
“Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by Him” (see Philippians 3:7-9, The Message, italics added. The KJV also uses the dung description).
To translate: that job promotion we might be pursuing, Paul calls it dog dung. The new house, dog dung. Our academic and athletic achievements, dog dung. The same can be said of our physical appearance, intellectual prowess and bank account balances. In the light of the one thing—the one Person—who really matters, everything else really is rubbish. “Filthy rags.” Barkley poop.
Augustine once said, “he who has God has everything; he who has everything but God has nothing”.
If you’re anything like me, part of you really struggles with this idea. We are brought up to want our lives to mean something, and so we spend years accumulating titles, trinkets and trophies to shape our identity and our worth. Who and what would we be without our work promotions and other accomplishments? The fact is our worth is not dependent on the letters after our name, how hard we work or how many children we have. Our worth has already been set by the One who both created and reclaimed us.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13,14).
“You were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Nothing we do can affect the worth God has already placed on us. There are no stripes on our sleeves; only the stripes on His back. The blood of Jesus means we are okay when we are not okay. We are worthy even as a work in progress.
If you ever doubt who you are or what you have to offer, look to the cross and know that God deemed you worthy of Jesus. You are valued, loved and accepted . . . as you are . . . right now. And that’s no dog poop.
Linden Chuang is assistant editor—digital of Adventist Record.