Upon leaving the store, I asked the security guard, who was stationed at the exit, what the conversation was all about. "We had a customer come in with their dog," he replied. "Was it a seeing eye dog?" I asked. "No," the guard admitted. "It was just your everyday mutt."
Intrigued, while aware I had mistaken the "she" for a human female when it was in fact a canine female, I probed further into this situation. "So did the customer stay long inside the store?" I asked. "No, not really," related the guard. "They knew I could have called the deputies and that would have been trouble for him (the customer)," the guard added.
I wanted to know more about what kind of things this guard saw each day at this store. I already knew of customers who dealt marijuana in the store's parking lot, much less reeked of it while inside the store. So I inquired some more of the guard, who was friendly and polite throughout my conversation with him.
"So what else have you seen from the customers while on duty here?" I asked him.
"Oh, plenty," the guard nonchalantly replied. "Probably the biggest thing I've had to deal with is girls who come in that are pretty bare. Not wearing much and I have to throw them out. Health and safety code, you know."
"You mean they were so bare that their body parts could come against the produce and so forth that customers could pick up and buy?" I ventured to him.
"Well, yeah, that's probably the way to put it. I mean, it's not that I'm against customers staying cool in the Summer heat, nor is the store and its policies, but it's about other customers picking up germs from other people's body sweat and so on. People don't realize what they do while they pick up produce and goods as they shop."
Eeeew. There you go. Letting dogs into grocery stores - even while on leash - and females in scant attire brushing against who knows what in the produce and/or meat section of the store while selecting their groceries for checkout is the issue at hand. Is this what you would want to have happen with what you purchase from such a place? You get the drift. There are health and safety codes in place to protect and keep clean and safe retail operations like this one in the State of California at least. Yet with the influx of new people to my part of the state, the knowledge and practice of following the health and safety codes in terms of acceptable behavior while at a food retailer is diminishing. Hence the need for a store guard stationed in the store. A sad state of affairs, indeed.
* * *
On the other hand, there were plenty of times Jesus ate with the unwashed, the unclean, the down, the out, the dirty, the imperfect, the Godforsaken. I don't recall the Lord ever refusing someone coming to him who genuinely sought him just because they had a dog, or didn't have the right wardrobe, or didn't have their act together. From Matthew 5:2-11, ESV:
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Jesus give us his emphasis on what life is all about in the latter portion of the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 6:25-33, ESV:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Ain't that the truth, eh? (wink) Each day has its own trouble. But the good news is that God wants to provide for us and have us rest in his care. All we have to do is let go. . . stop being anxious. . . stop wondering what we will wear, among other things. . . and seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. When we do that, the things that are important - from the Lord's perspective - will be added to us and provided for us. What will those things be? The things God finds are necessary for us in this life and the life Eternal to come. God, being a good God, gives good gifts to his children, and not bad (Matthew 7:11, ESV):
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Finally, the Apostle Paul has these succinct words for us from Colossians 3:17, ESV:
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
My wife and I have actually done this regarding dogs. We have a Chihuahua puppy who is just adorable. . . we can't give him up, my wife says to me! When he was still nursing and needing more immediate attention, we actually brought him to church while we were attending our adult Sunday School class and worship service. He was in a woven reed basket, kind of like how Moses might have been in back in the day. Never an issue with the church leaders, and never a behavior problem. And he was quite the hit with kids and adults alike!
On clothes, my wife is always on my case because she doesn't like my "desert dress" of polo knit shirt and shorts. She wants me to dress more like Arnold Palmer or something. I say to her it's too hot to wear long slacks. . . shorts are just fine. Besides, others in our church wear shorts, men, women, and children alike. She has conceded the issue, but still brings it up when she thinks she can get me to change.
Bottom line, it's all in the attitude. Why do you bring your dog to where you are going? Why do you dress the way you do? Is it to get your own way, or to make Jesus' name great and praised? That's the acid test, my friends. Consider it deeply, reflect, and pray to the Lord what his will is for you to do based on what he has revealed to you through his Word, the Bible. He will never steer you wrong!