A very old adage says, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” If we were to substitute a dog, the paraphrase might say, “You can fill a dog’s water bowl, but he’ll probably still drink from the toilet anyway.” The same could usually be said of a mud puddle. Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s own culture is superior to all others. Perhaps we often expect animals to process information the same way humans do. With enough patience and rewards, that animal (except cats) might learn to do what we want it to do. Left to their own will, however, instinct seems to trump training. (Wayne, our resident vet, might debate all this, but I hope to make a spiritual application)
In the Old Testament after Moses gave the children of Israel God’s Law, it seemed they would obey and prosper (Ex 14:31) (Ex 24:7). But so many times they forgot or ignored their commitment and served other gods. In fact, even after the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah, a remnant still rebelled and went to Egypt in spite of God’s warning through the prophet Jeremiah and most died (Jer 42:16). Their disobedience had been blatant for a long time and the wives had never quit serving the Queen of Heaven (Jer 44:15-17). Nevertheless, the Lord is a “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness…” (Ex 34:11) He was still willing to reward the penitent (Jer 31:34). In other words, they could drink of the water of forgiveness.
Jesus Christ explained to the Samaritan woman at the well that His water (teachings) would quench one’s spiritual thirst and become a spring of water welling up to eternal life (Jo 4:13-14). But just as in the Old Testament, many wanted to go their own way, loving the praise of men more than praise from God (Jo 12: 42-43). They refused to love the truth and so be saved (2 Thes 2:10). They chose to drink the water of delusion.
The enigma still puzzles Christians today. How can so many people reject the pure water of the gospel for the fetid water of sin? Their answers no doubt run the gamut of reasons but many just prefer to indulge their own will at a terrible cost. Our task is to keep offering a pure drink and let them make a choice.