Wednesday, December 21, 2011

#17: Give a Helping Paw

Disney has officially overloaded my cuteness threshold.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians, 1961
watched December 11, 2011

My recent viewing of this movie had me reflecting on the many dogs that come alongside Pongo and Perdita to rescue their stolen puppies. I never realized how instrumental these unassuming side characters are to the story. When the dalmatian parents find themselves in need, they utilize the "canine telegraph system" to request help and information.

As a result, their puppies are successfully located, and as they endeavor to bring them (and the other 84 puppies, a total of 99) back home, the dogs within the "telegraph system" provide directions, shelter, food, and protection from the threatening Cruella and her henchmen Horace and Jasper. Though they will never grace the cover of the DVD or be listed first in the movie credits, these dogs (as well as cats, horses, ducks, and cows) are the true heroes of the film.

Especially courageous is the mangy farm cat, Sergeant Tibs, who enters the house where the 99 puppies are being held captive, and leads them out, one by one. Although he has never even met Pongo and Perdita, he risks his life trying to save their puppies.

Generosity, hospitality, love and loyalty are displayed by characters who have nothing to do, really, with the main story. Strangers, who, simply because of a common bond, give aid at a moment's notice, despite the dangers or inconvenience.

A couple of my friends suggested that I talk about the movie's parallels with Christian community. It's true; there are similarities here. When we are graciously adopted into the family of God, that means we have a built-in network of brothers and sisters with whom we are called to share life. In the early church we see the complete and total generosity that the believers had towards one another. It was a time when no one was in need.

But I fear that much has changed since then. What would it look like if today's Church embodied the nature of this dog community from 101 Dalmatians? If we were the network that listened for and acted on opportunities to help others, no matter their "breed," location, or relationship to us? Furthermore, how could we go beyond our own, to rescue those other 84 dalmatian puppies, unrelated to us, but vulnerable and oppressed?

I am thankful for people who do give of themselves in this way and love those in need. I think of the good people at International Justice Mission who are fighting to stop human trafficking, or my friends in Maryland, whose church small group members speak into each other's life struggles with truths from Scripture. There are countless other examples.

And yet, as I reflect on my own life and community, I can't say this has always been my experience. Often we are too busy to look beyond ourselves. We've got so much going on that we can't hear or see those around us who need help. I say "we," knowing I myself am a selfish person most of the time, but also that I'm not alone in my guilt.

The dogs were compelled to help the 101 dalmatians simply because they belonged to the dog "family." What compels us to love should be a deep, real understanding that we belong to Christ. And like those dogs in the telegraph system, we should be listening and ready to demonstrate that love.

1 comment:

  1. well said, laura. and a good challenge to everyone, Christian or not.