New Believer’s Sometimes Act Like Puppies
Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” John 18:10-11
“I think It’s time for us to get another dog,” I told my wife after three weeks of mourning for Bubbles who we lost to heart failure. My wife and I love rescuing dogs, so we found a great deal that was going on at one of our local animal shelters and we found an awesome Gordon setter mix that is very adorable. His name is Buddy and he is only a year old and one big puppy. Over the last 48 hours of owning this loving excitable animal, I have observed some different characteristics that we can learn from him and how to be patient with new believers. Remember you were once a new believer too and we have to have patience with them, not preach to them, but teach them. After all Jesus told Peter to feed His lambs. Peter was the best example of how a new believer can be by always doing the wrong thing around Jesus.
One of the first things I observed is that puppies get excited in the new home environment. When I talk of excitement I mean we go from chewing things that should not be chewed to peeing on the floor even though we are properly home trained. Buddy has gone through the PPAWS program where two inmates (female) train him in basic commands and also crate train him and house break him. They did an awesome job of training him, but he has to get used to his new environment, so he gets unhinged. I think the same things happen to new believers, sometimes the excitement overwhelms them and they mess up because their old ways come out. Peter always seemed to be on the right track with Jesus then would go too far and have to be anchored down by strong encouragement by Jesus. The above scripture is a prime example of that puppy confusion he was experiencing. He forgot all the things Jesus taught him about loving others and started cutting and slashing. Then a few short hours later, he will deny Jesus three times. He was a mess, just like Buddy.
Puppies want to eat your food, especially if they can climb up on your legs. My wife and I have been limited to eating at the dinner table because we have to worry about Buddy getting a hold of our food. New Christians want to have what you have, but are not aware of the cost that brought you to where you are in your maturity as a Christian. Peter wanted to be like Jesus, but did not have a clue as to what he had to go through to get there. He eventually did become like Jesus and even had the same type of death according tradition.
Puppies can be overly affectionate to the point of being irritating. This morning I was trying to do some abdominal crunches as part of my routine before I run and Buddy decided it was time to wrestle. That dog jumped on top of me and started licking my face persistently. I’m certain at some point until I no longer think it’s cute I will get irritated and corrective about it. Peter did the same to Jesus when Jesus washed his feet. He didn’t want Jesus to do it because he felt he should be washing Jesus’ feet. Then when Jesus said if he didn’t let Him do it he would have no part of Jesus. Of course, Peter goes too far again and says not just his feet, but his face and his hands. Come one Peter. New believers do that same thing, they go too far sometimes and wonder what went wrong. We have to be patient with them and continue to love them.
Puppies not only are overly affectionate, but they demand to have love given back to them. Buddy wants constant attention and needs to be petted and loved on. Perhaps the reason Peter would mess up a lot was he wanted reassurance that Jesus still loved him despite the mess he had in his uncertain life. We have to remember that the new believer will have a difficult time letting go of the past at some point. A nonjudgmental attitude and a shame free environment plus sound teaching is what will help change the new believer and help him or her escape from their past. You can’t just tell someone that something is wrong, they have to be convicted by the Holy Spirit first, that’s why preaching is not a good idea, but teaching is. Preaching is when you try to be like God and make them know they have done wrong, Teaching is showing them practical ways to move from beyond their past.
Puppies are very cute, but are a lot of work and trouble. The work and trouble can be very rewarding to the master of the dog, because the dog becomes a very obedient and very loyal loving Dog. The same thing works for the new believer, they can move past their past and become strong powerful Christians for the cause of Christ. Peter became the apostle Peter, healed the sick, and raised the dead. I’m certain Jesus looked down at him and said well done, you have learned the lessons I taught you. Patience and love plus a shame free environment can change anybody’s life to become significant.
© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.