This is Lucy (no relation that I know of to the blogging Lucy). She is an object lesson of what transformation can mean when one of God’s creatures is immersed in an environment of love.
Lucy is eight or nine years old, and, until two years ago, was owned by a family that either ignored her or teased her and finally got two other dogs on whom they lavished attention. She was well fed and not physically abused, but an environment bereft of love and tainted with disrespect is still an abusive one. The conditions under which she lived were not unlike the conditions of far too many humans, so it’s no surprise that many of them, like Lucy, become skittish, untrusting, prone to acting out, and inappropriately defensive.
Two years ago Lucy came to live with new family of mom, dad, two girls and a big, very active dog, named Jack. She left a city apartment for a house and yard in the suburbs, so it had to seem both strange and frightening to a little dog like her. What she fell into was an environment of acceptance and love that tolerated her bad habits, giving her time to learn new and better ones.
It took a while, but Lucy now sleeps curled up beside Jack, leaps into anybody’s lap confident that she will be petted in just the right way, welcomes all (well maybe most) strangers as new opportunities for more loving, and gives much joy to her human companions.
The more than obvious point of this story is that Lucy’s second home is exactly what each Christian congregation should be like. A place where all are accepted with godly love, and transformation from whatever to discipleship in Christ’s love can and does take place all the time. But are they? Or are they apt to be more like Lucy’s first home? That’s part question and part accusation. You know the answer. I don’t.