First in the series: “The Gospel According to Dogs: What Our Four-Legged Friends Can Teach Us”
Psalm 139:1-14; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
This coming week in traditional Sanctuary worship we’ll begin a new worship series, “The Gospel According to Dogs: What Our Four-Legged Friends Can Teach Us,” in which we will examine over the next three weeks the intriguing parallels we can find between the nature of dogs and the messages of the Gospels. Whether you’re a “dog person” or not, I think you will enjoy this lighthearted look at how God’s love is reflected in the nature of dogs — and in our relationships with them.
In “Use What God Has Given You,” the first sermon of this new worship series, we’ll consider that dogs — like us! — are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” In taking this lesson from our canine friends, we can see how wholeheartedly using the gifts we are given helps us to be who God created us to be — without hesitation or second guessing.
Have you ever stopped to consider some of the amazing gifts dogs naturally possess? Take their sense of smell, for instance. We humans have about 6 million olfactory receptors in our noses that give us our “sense of smell.” Want to take a guess at how many olfactory receptors a dog’s nose has? Up to 300 million! And when it comes to analyzing these smells, a dog’s brain is 40 times more capable of analyzing smells than a human brain is.
Studies have also shown dogs to be capable of perceiving twice the frequencies normal human ears can, and they can distinguish and identify these sounds about four times better than we can.
Beyond mere sensory data, dogs also have amazing abilities to render assistance that is sometimes beyond the comprehension of even the humans who know, care for, and train them. Just a few focused minutes on the Internet or Facebook will reveal countless stories of service animals doing amazing things to help their humans, from their ability to read faces, perceive the imperceptible, anticipate needs, and even accomplish feats of great heroism as we saw in the many stories that came out of 9/11 and just about every scene of natural or man-made disaster.
When dogs are actually trained for this work — honing their innate giftedness for the purpose of specific tasks such as search and rescue, finding missing or trapped people, alerting law enforcement agents to bombs, explosives, and even drugs — the results are truly amazing. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, asked “How in the world do they do that?”
And, just as dogs naturally use the gifts they are born with — sometimes honed for incredible behaviors associated with that innate giftedness — so can we. When we are living fully into who God created us to be, we too can do amazing things.
In the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul says that each of us possesses certain gifts that were given to us by God: “There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries and the same Lord; and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.”
And not only are we equipped by God with specific innate gifts; God knows exactly what these gifts are in each of us — and what we are capable of doing if we live into these gifts fully. Or, in the words of David in Psalm 139: “Lord, you have examined me. You know me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up. Even from far away, you comprehend my plans . . . You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.”
This coming Sunday, we’ll explore further the idea that we each are gifted by God in amazing ways — and how we might better embrace and hone the gifts we’ve been given to be all God created us to be.
I look forward to seeing you in the Sanctuary on Sunday where we’ll consider together all the ways we each are “marvelously made.”
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster,
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries and the same Lord; and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.