I never thought I’d be a cat person. As I grew up I had dogs as pets, man’s best friend. Then, my son Steve snuck a kitten into our house in 1998. A couple months later Sandy got another cat “to keep Blacky company.” I’ve been a cat person ever since. I’ve learned a lot about cats in the last fifteen years. They too can be “man’s best friend” – I have one that follows me all over the house, and crawls into my lap to be petted. And I learned that cats love to be teased.
If I’m lying in bed, one of our cats is bound to climb in and curl up next to me. I discovered a long time ago, that if I moved my foot or hand under the covers, they’d follow it all around and jump at it, as if they were trying to catch a mouse. And they never seem to get tired of chasing the movement. Pet stores obviously learned this same lesson, because they’ve filled their shelves with toys to tease cats: like elastic strings with fake mice attached that your pet chases and you pull back at the last minute, and circular tracks with a plastic ball that revolves inside a rail when the cat paws at it, but which the animal can never “catch”. A company on TV even advertises a toy that will tease your cat for you, if you’re not around or are just too lazy to do it yourself. For only $19.95, you can purchase this contraption that moves an object back and forth electronically on a track under a soft carpet-like cover.
Advertisers must think that people like to be teased too. For they tease us with sales for things that we can’t really afford to add to our already burgeoning credit cards. They tease us with promises of a return of physical beauty and endurance that passed us by twenty or more years ago, if we just purchase and use their product. They tease us with happiness and joy unspeakable if we’ll move to Tennessee and buy land on the most gorgeous lake in the western hemisphere. Even the weather persons tease us with offers to instruct and prepare us for the worst disaster of the century, if we just tune into their 11:00 pm report. The advertisers and the reporters must be having some success, or they’d change their techniques. But I’m convinced that people are much different than cats – we don’t really like to be teased. We’re created to be receptors of truth.
Oh, I know, we all make that same mistake of teasing the people closest to us. And our friends and family usually put up with us – and pretend that they don’t mind – but I’m sure that inside they do mind. I know I do! Teasing is a sign of disrespect – and it often hurts a lot.
The Apostle Paul warned of “foolish talking and coarse jesting” as not befitting of followers of Christ. And Jesus referred to words spoken as our “treasure” and explained how “a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” Then He went on to say that men will eventually have to account for every “idle word” they speak.
It should actually give us great comfort to know that God is very serious when He speaks – when He promises us something. He is not like the advertisers all around us on billboards and newspapers and on TV, trying to scam us out of our last dollar. Nor is He like the newscaster trying to steal our time and focus to listen to his dribble. Let me share one of my favorite scriptures, which God used the prophet Isaiah to tell mankind about Himself: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
God doesn’t tease us with His blessings. When He says, “I don’t deal with you according to your sins, nor reward you according to your iniquities; for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is My love and patience and mercy toward those who respect Me,” we need to believe Him. When He says “As far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions from Me,” we just need to accept that as true. And when He, through His Son, Jesus tells His followers that we have been given power to defeat every enemy, whether that enemy is the devil or sickness or poverty, we need to believe that also.
God created our cute pets to bring us such comfort and pleasure in this often frustrating world we inhabit. But He also molded each one of us, so intellectually and emotionally different from that animal kingdom that we were intended to nurture and protect and get such joy from. God created us with a yearning to seek out and discover truth, about ourselves and about the universe that we inhabit. And sometimes we run into a brick wall in our own personal search for truth. When that happens, as it inevitably will for everyone, we need to be able to go to an objective source that we can trust to reveal truth. We don’t need that source to tease us – we need God.