About 15 years ago my kids and their friends were trying to decide what type of dog would Jesus have had as a pet? First they thought a Golden Retriever would have been Jesus’ canine companion. Later they agreed it would be something small and defenseless, maybe like a Chihuahua or my diminutive Dachshund at the time, Bailey.
Upon further reflection I decide our other dog at the time, Rufus, was the dog Jesus would have picked. You see, Rufus is a mutt. A nondescript, Heinz 57 Variety type of a dog.
He’s definitely not a pedigree, like Bailey, though Bailey was supposed to be a Miniature Dachshund. Weighing in at 18 or so pounds he was definitely not miniature. We never had luck with miniatures. Rusty, our second Dachshund was also supposed to be miniature. He wasn’t and tipped the scales at 17 or 18 pounds.
We didn’t know what breed of dog Rufus was, nor did our vet. But we figured he was some sort of hound.
We got Rufus at the Lake County Humane Society about 1994 or ‘95. It was guesstimated that Rufus, which was his name when we found him, was about 4 months old. It was Rufus’s name which saved him because Rufus was my nickname in college. Anytime the girls got a stuffed animal I would say to name him Rufus. They just said, “Dadddd.”
We were told he probably wouldn’t get much larger – which was very wrong. Back then he was probably 30 pounds max. Eventually he tipped the scales at 95 or more pounds. And he hit triple digits on more than one occasion.
Rufus is very definitely a mutt.
But he was a loyal mutt. And he was also pretty smart.
I can hide a treat in one of my hands and Rufus would swat at it with his paw. He was right at least half of the time. Actually, his record was far better than one out of two.
Rufus also tried to please, although as he got older he practiced selective deafness. Rufus also smelt bad and he shed a ton of hair. Yet, I believe Rufus is the type of dog that Jesus would pick.
And I’m glad, because if I were a dog, I’d be a Rufus.
There’s no pedigree in me. And sometimes I’m overweight and smell bad, though I have kept most of my hair.
But there’s nothing extraordinary about me. I have nothing special in my breeding—only Jesus.
Those are the type of guys Jesus chose to turn the world upside down.
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him,” wrote Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31. “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’”
Jesus can also use pedigrees. That’s what Paul was. Among the Jews. He was a Pharisee and held to the Law faultlessly.
But it wasn’t until Paul put his pedigree behind him that God could use him.
“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God,” he wrote in the next chapter. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Sometimes, I think we get too far away from Jesus’ simple plan. We put far too much stock in pedigree papers and titles—titles we don’t find anywhere in the Bible.
And we hinder the cause of Christ because we try to pick the wise and the strong.
What type of dog would Jesus have picked?
That’s simple—a simple dog. The same type of men he called his disciples.
And thank God for that.
Author and historian Rick Reed has been writing about Florida's Lake and Sumter counties since 1991 in The Daily Commercial, The Lake Sentinel and Lake Magazine. His Reminisce column, which looks at local history in Lake and Sumter counties has appeared in The Daily Commercial since 1998. He served as the City curator of the Leesburg Historical Museum from 2003 to 2008 and wrote the Sesquicentennial History of Leesburg in 2008, a 240-plus page book of Leesburg’s history.