FOR 50 YEARS, cartoonist Charles Schulz gave us pictures of ourselves wrapped in a smile. One of the last strips I clipped from our Sunday paper showed Snoopy the dog sitting on top of his doghouse with a typewriter, writing about his life. He titled his story . . .
The Dog Who Never Did Anything
Snoopy remembers it this way, “You stay home now,” they said, “and be a good dog.”
So he stayed home and was a good dog.
Then he decided to be even a better dog. So he barked at everyone who went by. And he even chased the neighbor’s cats.
“What’s happened to you?” they said. “You used to be such a good dog.”
So he stopped barking and chasing cats, and everyone said, “You’re a good dog.”
The moral, as Snoopy typed it, is “Don’t do anything and you’ll be a good dog.”
As I turned the smile around in my mind, I noticed a quirk of the English language. Snoopy and God have something in common. They are related not only by alphabet (dog and god), but by what “creatures in the middle” expect of them. The idea intrigued me enough to try another version.
The God Who Never Did Anything
“You give me what I want now,” they said, “and be a good God.”
So He gave them what they wanted and He was a good God.
Then He decided to be an even better God.
He started knocking over the furniture of other gods, and He used pain to help people in ways they could not understand.
“What’s happened to You?” they said.
“You used to be such a good God.”
So He stopped knocking over the furniture of other gods, and He stopped using pain in ways that were beyond people’s ability to understand.
And everyone said, “You’re a good God.”
The moral, as angels might see it, “Stop acting like God and people will think You’re good.”
Could our tendency to confuse our idea of good– with God– be one reason the Apostle John ends his first New Testament letter saying to followers of Christ, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1John 5:21)?