Last updated on September 22, 2023
“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
Recently I watched several YouTube videos about injured or abandoned dogs and cats. Most of the stories were heartbreaking. And yet, frequently, with intervention, the unfortunate four-legged creature underwent a spectacular transformation. Sadly, I imagine for every video I’ve watched where the outcome is miraculous, hundreds die in misery because they never receive the care they need.
Sometimes when I see the video coming up on my YouTube feed, the animal looks beyond hope, beyond healing, beyond the effort it would take to save them. At times, I ask myself, why do I watch these videos? The sorrow will break my heart, and I don’t want to feel their pain. Ignoring those gut-wrenching videos and searching for something less emotional would be much easier. Sometimes I do that. “I can’t handle it tonight,” I say to myself. “I’m worn out fighting my own battles. Watching that video will drain me and make me depressed.”
However, when a rescuer saves an animal, I am reminded of Goodness. We forget that the financial, emotional, and spiritual cost oftentimes requires a huge commitment on the part of the rescuer. Once, I watched a rescued dog die unexpectedly. I was distraught, and so were the people involved in the rescue. I felt the intense pain of losing the dog and the rescuers’ sorrow because they grieved over an animal they had labored to save.
I often post these videos on Twitter, so if I want to watch them later, I can easily find them. Recently I posted a video of a dog on Facebook that was the most emaciated dog I had ever seen. I couldn’t imagine the dog would survive, but he did, and the rescue organization found a home for him. The video had one of those happily-ever-after endings that we all want for ourselves and those we love.
After posting the video on Facebook, I went to my page a few days later to read the comments; there were none. So I posted a follow-up comment: “Only one person liked this video, and it’s such an amazing transformation. Be blessed.”
It’s been two weeks, and no one has given the video a thumbs-up. I am saddened. A good Samaritan saves a dog’s life, and even with coaxing, I can’t get anyone to watch it. In the past, I’ve posted about snake encounters, and I would get up to a hundred comments or likes. Is this the world we live in? No one gives a second thought about a rescued dog, but share a meaningless snake video, and everyone has something to say?
I’ve watched the video of the dog many times. When I see him, I see myself. “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see”[i]
Jesus warned us in Revelation that the church in the days before His return would be neither cold nor hot. He describes the church as lukewarm—preoccupied with the things of this world, lacking empathy, and gloating over material wealth. While the Laodicean church believed they needed nothing, God saw them as “..wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—” (Revelation 3:17).
What an indictment! We aren’t even talking about unbelievers. We’re talking about Christians.
I am reminded that “white garments” symbolize holiness. God’s holiness sees what we can become, not what we are now. According to Revelation 3:5, many in heaven will wear holy white garments: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
A Good Samaritan rescued that pitiful dog because he knew what the dog could become if he gave the poor creature food, medicine, and love. The starving dog in the YouTube video had no hope—until someone gave him reason to hope. And God has done the same for us.
God admonishes us to be like Him. When He saved us, we were wretched, but our Lord didn’t see that. He saw what He created us to be. God saw the future you and the end me—a time when we would be awakened from our slumber and made alive through the Holy Spirit.
Can we be like Jesus and show compassion for someone or something in need? Can we be like the person who rescued that dog or others who have rescued animals or people? Am I willing to take time out of my busy schedule to do something for the Kingdom? As Jesus said in Matthew 9:37, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
Psalm 22:6 is a prophetic statement attributed to Jesus: “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people.”
It is easy to disregard something disturbing. Only by the healing salve of Jesus can our eyes be opened. Only then will we appreciate the depth and breadth of God’s love and His sacrificial death on the cross. And if we are still human, hopefully, we can empathize with those who are hurting and need help.
In the busyness of living, are we going to seek a comfortable Christianity and live in blissful ignorance, ignoring the pain of others?
God can use us when we’re willing to be set aside, inconvenienced, and humbled. When we embrace suffering, we come to the end of ourselves. God reminds us of His sufficiency and our dependency on Him.
Can we take time to pray? Can we take time to listen? Can we take time to watch a video that might seem insignificant? If we do, God will redeem that time and renew us in His image for His glory.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to remember in everything I do to honor and bring you glory, and You will use it for Good.
[i] Hoffman, Mary. Amazing Grace. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2007.