To Be Like...

             I hate pigs.

            God in His creativity made an unnumbered host of beautiful creatures.  Think of graceful dolphins, the stunning bird of paradise, the sleek beauty of a running cheetah, the exquisite grace of a horse.  Even elephants in their own way have a dignity and beauty about them.  When I see these animals I think, “Ah, Lord God, You did a great job.”  

And then there are the pigs.  People have told me they are intelligent creatures.  That may be so, but their brains are wrapped up in a disgusting body.  The closer a person gets to a pig the worse it gets.  First they squeal and then they grunt – equally repulsive.  Then watch what those things eat.  On sanitary American farms they might eat something akin to corn flakes but turn those babies loose and they’re rooting and snorting and eating not only the filthy and smelly but the rotting and rancid.  I admit I eat pork, bacon and ham but it is because in doing so I feel like I have done humankind a service by helping to eliminate one more pig in the world.  They don’t taste so bad but I can’t bear to think of them when I’m eating one.  I know God is wise and good in all He created but my appreciation of the magnificence of creation has yet to extend to pigs. 

This is not my first tirade against pigs.  When I have complained about this bane on the earth there is always someone who leaps to their defense.  Here’s my question for the potential guardian of hog honor: Would you consider it a compliment to be called a pig or a hog?  Would you like to be like a pig?  I think not.

A far more pleasant animal is the dog.  Some are ugly and some of questionable appearance and function.  Why would anyone want a dog smaller than a cat?  Still, whatever shortcomings may be in their appearance, unless trained otherwise it is their nature to be eternally pleasant.  You pat your dog on the head, walk out the door and circle the house, come back in and the dog greets you like you have been a on world tour.  Their exuberance begins in the tail and works its way through the whole body until a dog is in pure ecstasy just because you speak to it.  But as wonderful as dogs might be the same question surfaces. Are you honored if someone calls you a dog?  Would you like to be like a dog?  Probably not.

In our aspirations we are not drawn to what is lower but to what is higher.

It is part of our human nature to admire the heroic, the noble, the just and the good. Although we might like this thing or that person the challenge to our becoming more lies in finding not only what we esteem highly but that something that stirs within us the thought, “You can be like that too.” 

Part of the beauty of the Incarnation of Christ was that He came among us, lived where we did and struggled with those things that trouble us.  And when the Spirit of God speaks to us about how our lives should be lived He does not urge us to settle for less or renege on our commitment.  Instead, the Spirit of God places before us the example of Jesus and our hearts whisper, “I want to be like Him.” 

We see the caring of His hugs of little children, the gentle reach to touch the untouchable leper, the humane word for the thief during the inhumanity of the crucifixion. We yearn for kindness like that. 

We watch Jesus humbly wash the feet of the disciples, knowing that eleven pair of feet would run away during His hour of need and one pair would walk away only to return to betray Him.  We long for nobility like that. 

When the winds threatened to sink a boat Jesus stood and stilled the waters as well as the fearful hearts of His followers. When the impossibility of a little boy’s lunch offered an opportunity for God’s glory, we watch Jesus break down in small pieces to meet great need.  When healing was sought for a child by the Canaanite woman and for a servant of the Roman centurion in Caesarea Jesus’ thought alone was enough to affect the cure.  Power like that is what we wish characterized our lives. 

The life of holiness has been called Christlikeness.  Past General Albert Orsborn said, “Before I knew Jesus, I saw Him and loved Him in my mother.”  What greater compliment to a person’s life than for people to see in us a reflection of our Savior, a miniature incarnation of our Incarnate Christ?  Would I want to be like Jesus?  With all my heart.  It makes me cry out, “Whatever must be sacrificed, whatever must be changed, whatever the cost, I gladly give it to be like the Lord I adore.”  But it isn’t what we do but what He has done that even makes it possible. 

To be like Jesus! this hope possesses me,

In every thought and deed, this is my aim, my creed;

To be like Jesus! this hope possesses me,

His Spirit helping me, like Him I’ll be.

-       John Gowans