My Cat Does Not Believe in Tigers!
Can a Cat Believe in a Tiger? No? This is not really about felines – there is a Christian message here!
I was talking to my cat recently (well, actually I wasn't, you understand, but I'm trying to make a point here!) I discovered that my cat, who is called 'Museltof', does not believe that tigers exist; he insists that they are just an invention of Hollywood! Moreover, he thinks it a little sad that my wife and I happen to believe in these huge cat-like creatures which have this rather pretty brown and orange striped fur and which are quite capable of eating a human being (that is a very rare event by the way, the idea that they regularly do so really is part of Hollywood – if they saw you or me they would most likely run away!) When I was talking to Museltof I could tell that he was struggling to hold back the laughter, only managing to do so out of respect for us.
He says that in all the many years in which he has gone out to play, not only in this garden but in the garden of our previous home (plus all the other local gardens which he went exploring in), he has never seen a tiger – not even once. He has also discussed the 'tiger belief' with his fellow cats and he tells me that they could not stop laughing when he told them that his master and mistress (myself and Tina) believed in such things!
I quickly called the cat to the television screen recently because I thought I could offer him proof that tigers really do exist. Winnie the Pooh was on, and 'Tigger' had just walked into the action, but I should have thought much longer about offering him this particular “proof of tigers” for as soon as he saw Tigger bounding around the screen (in a most un-tiger like manner), he fell into convulses of laughter, even lying on his back on the carpet, shaking and helpless in semi-hysterical mirth!
The example which I chose actually confirmed to our cat that tigers are only an invention of Hollywood! Tina said, 'Why show him such a silly example? Why didn't you wait for one of those African nature-type programmes?' She is right of course. The “example” which I chose means that he will probably never believe in tigers now!
But if I go back to my last serious discussion with Museltof about the existence of tigers, the real problem he experiences in entering a 'tiger belief system' is that he has personally never experienced such a huge, all-powerful, all-observing cat – a cat who must be obeyed and respected – neither have any of his domestic cat friends. I tell him that the tiger lives in a 'far-off land' and therefore he will probably never see one but should still believe in the all-powerful one before whom domestic cats are little more than grasshoppers! But I told my cat that if ever a tiger does suddenly reveal himself to him he would need to respect him and to be in awe of him otherwise he could face death!
But the tiger is just so far off, so far above our cat in skills and knowledge and cunning that unless a tiger comes to our cat and personally reveals himself to him, our cat will not believe!
As a child, I always believed in God – I just cannot recall a time when I thought that God wasn't there (so perhaps I had an advantage over my cat's conception of tigers), but I had no real knowledge of God. I believe that God grants certain people a kind of mystical knowledge that he is there (I'm sorry, but thats the only way I can describe it). But I had no knowledge of God otherwise. Just as my cat has no knowledge of tigers, I had no real knowledge of what God looks like, how He behaves, or how He expects us to behave. The knowledge came to me through the revelation of Jesus Christ! Christ came to this world to reveal to men and women what God is like and what He expects of people. If you will, He came to put 'flesh and bones' on earlier concepts of God which were often merely a sort of mystical knowledge that God is indeed there, yet with no real knowledge of Him. Christ came to say,
'Okay, now you can put aside mere mystical and confused conceptions of God because....
THIS IS WHAT GOD IS REALLY LIKE AND HERE IS HIS DIVINE PLAN FOR MEN AND WOMEN! I HAVE COME HERE TO MAKE IT PLAIN BECAUSE PEOPLE COULD NEVER REACH UP TO US TO LEARN OF US. YOU NEED A DIRECT REVELATION FROM THE “FAR OFF LAND” OF HEAVEN TO REALLY HAVE A KNOWLEDGE OF GOD; BUT BE AWARE THAT ONCE YOU ARE GRANTED THIS KNOWLEDGE THAT CHRIST DIED ON THE CROSS TO SAVE AND OFFER ETERNAL LIFE TO MEN AND WOMEN, YOU THEREAFTER HAVE NO EXCUSE IF YOU REJECT GOD AND HIS DIVINE REVELATION!'
So, just as my cat would need to respect and to be in awe of any tiger who might come to him if he wants to continue to live, we too must now respect, obey and be in awe of the Great God who has shown Himself to us!
But sometimes “bad examples” hinder. I might hinder my cat's knowledge of tigers by showing him Tigger and, in similar manner, some people who have had a clear revelation of Christ hinder unbelievers with bad examples of what God is like. Here are some examples:
Are we assisting people to understand the loving and forgiving nature of God when (a few of us) unwisely teach them that God has already made up His mind that a huge majority of the Human Race are certainly doomed in Hell (especially when no Scripture ever says such a thing)?
Are we assisting people to understand God when we liberalize and water-down the gospel and turn it into a message almost entirely about the 'here and now'? About wealth? About prosperity? About accepting what the Bible plainly calls sin?
Do we assist people to understand the nature and character of God when so many congregations are full of strife, dissent, disagreements, arguments about hymns, arguments about prayers and where new people are so often given the impression that “membership” is all about money?
Just as a cat 'will not believe' in a tiger until that cat receives/experiences a personal revelation/appearance of a tiger, so we human beings can have little more than some undefined mystical knowledge of God until we receive or experience the revelation of God which is only found in Christ. Through Christ God has decided to reveal rather a lot of knowledge about Himself and His plan for human beings (though not everything, He currently holds certain knowledge back, only clearly showing us what we presently most need to know: How to be delivered from the power of sin and death and to be ransported into His eternal kingdom). And just as a tiger is 'far above' a common domestic cat, so our God is 'far above' people; a cat does not have the ability to come to learn about a tiger from within its own small worldview, neither can people reach out from where they presently stand in their spiritual Falleness to learn of the true God and His plan of salvation for men and women. No. God had to come to us. And when that revelation does come to us, we should bow in respect before it - just as the domestic cat would certainly quickly show respect to a tiger!
We can and should tell others of the divine revelation which has come to us, but we must be continually wary of pointing out poor examples of what God is like! For just as the eternally beloved 'softie' Tigger really tells us nothing of the tiger, some “Christian” pictures of God are also too often woefully inadequate and rather than helping people see the true nature of God, only make those people think , 'If that is Christianity I want none of it!'
Robin A. Brace, 2004.