Dog Food Ethics

IMG_2657Yesterday we bought our dog that real fancy-schmancy dog food. You know the one. It’s the one that has to be refrigerated because it’s all natural with cooked meat (how dare we give a domesticated carnivorous canine raw meat) and actual veggies in it you can see. We bought it hoping it’d help our dog take her monthly heart worm medicine better.

As I was opening up the dog food (which really looked like a pimento loaf in a tube) I jokingly remarked to my wife that it really might taste kind of good. She looked at it and said that it looked like “people food.” We then jokingly talked about feeding it to our kids. I mean, hey, Henry Huggins ate dog food (that’s Henry Huggins from the Beverly Clearly book Henry Huggins if you don’t know) why can’t our kiddos.

And then I made the remark. You know, that sentence, that statement that totally changes a fun conversation to something serious. I held the tube of food in my hand and looked at my wife and said “We’re feeding our dog better food than what children around the world are eating.” My wife stopped and realized how true that was. It made us pause and think about how much we in the States (the good ol’ U S of A) treat our dogs and cats better than we do hungry children. And I’m not just talking about those really sappy-meant-to-be-a-tear-jerker-guilt-trip commercial on feeding children in developing countries. I’m talking about just here in the States, just here in west Michigan. We’re feeding our children better than kids in the area might eat.

Dude!

When I woke this morning, I began to think about my response as a follower of Jesus. A bit ago I wrote about Jubilee justice and restoring people because of the simple fact that they are made in the image of God. As a follower of Jesus, I am called into a new ethic, a new character that reflects the character of God. The children mattered to Jesus, the hurting, the poor, the widow, the fatherless, the ones on the fringes of society mattered to Jesus. And because they mattered to Him, they should matter to me.

Should.

Yeah, that’s an important word there.

Should.

IMG_2643Now, I don’t want to start making a guilt trip blog post. Not in the least. I find it interesting that people don’t start talking really all that much about hunger issues until the holiday season comes. Then churches have food drives, people volunteer at soup kitchens, and try to stock up food pantries.

Awesome. Go for it. Do that thing.

But what about the other 10 1/2 months out of the year. What then? Wouldn’t they also be in need during those other months as well?

Back in seminary I learned of a school near the church I worked at that started sending children home with meals for dinner on top of the already exisiting breakfast and lunch programs they had. These children now had all three meals of the day provided by the school.

And this isn’t a white privilege/guilt thing being said either. This isn’t a check-your-privilege moment. I’m talking about this from personal experience. When I was in junior high and high school, I was on the food assistance program. My breakfast and lunch were provided by the schools. I knew what it was like to have others provide for me. And I cringed at Christians who only served at soup kitchens during the holidays, only gave to food pantries during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And now on Facebook and Twitter I see slacktavists (slacker activists, it almost made the Oxford English Dictionary word of the year, much better than “vape” I tell you what) posting memes and sharing posts that decry the need to feed others (like the one below).

thanksgiving meme

But is that where it stops? Do you follow through with the meme or the blog post you shared?

Jesus calls us to be a new people. A people who reflect and live out not only the character of God, but a people who reflect the coming kingdom of God; a people who are blessed to be a blessing to others.

Jesus has called his followers to bear fruit in order to show others that we are His disciples (John 15:5,8). The way we bear this fruit is to show His love to others which involves a self-sacrificial love (John 15:12-14). The way we live this life is to follow Jesus and His example. Jesus picked up the cross, gave of himself, and went to die for others. He calls His followers to do the same (Mark 8:34-37; Matthew 16:24-26). This is the new ethic followers of Jesus are called to do. James, the brother of Jesus, writes that faith without deeds is death, we need to live out our faith (James 2:14-26).

This isn’t to shame. This isn’t to guilt. This is to but reflect.

I can go into the work I’ve done in the past in food kitchens, food pantries, working with Children’s Hunger Fund (a worthwhile organization I’ll tell you that), and the like. But I’m not the hero here. I’ve had a sleepless night struggling over the fact that as a follower of Jesus, called to reflect the character of God, called to live a new ethic, am not doing this right now. I’m not beating myself up over it, but reflecting on how I am living out my faith today as well.

To be a follower of Jesus isn’t to just go to church each Sunday, sing some songs, feel good about yourself, give money to help others, then leave and not doing anything the other 6 days. To be a follower of Jesus is to live out being Jesus. To speak of Jesus through word and deed.

I almost took a bite of that dog food to see what it tasted like. I didn’t. I wonder if I took the same ingredients, could i feed a healthy meal to just one child in Jesus’ name?

Dog food ethics is hard.

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