An Ugly Cat in an Ugly World

Yesterday morning, while we were on our way to the grocery store, my wife was sharing a story with me that she had read. It was about a stray cat named “Ugly” who was badly abused by all the occupants of the apartment complex where he lived. The poor cat was missing both an ear and an eye, and he also had a broken foot that hadn’t received any medical attention and, therefore, healed at an awkward angle. The story goes on to say that the residents would throw rocks at him, squirt him with their water hoses, and even slam his feet in the door when he wouldn’t leave.

The thing is, the poor cat simply wanted affection. The guy writing the article says that the cat would curl up around your feet as if forgiving you for soaking him or throwing things at him, and he would run to the neighborhood children bumping them with his head (which if you have a cat you know that when it bumps you with its head it simply wants to be loved) to get love. Sadly, one day it was attacked by a resident’s huskies, and as the man went to rescue it, he saw that it had been fatally injured; his spine, it appears, had been broken and he had a bad gash down his chest. As the man picked him up to bring him to his home to try and save him, he felt Ugly sucking on his ear (a common action he did when he was happy). Pulling Ugly even closer he began to feel him purr as Ugly bumped his head against the man’s hand. Even to this poor cat’s last breath, he simply wanted to be loved.

As my wife finished the story my head was spinning at a thousand miles an hour. The life this cat lived makes me think of the life of Christ. Both, though badly beaten and abused, continued only to love. They never lashed out at their attackers even to the death. In Romans Paul writes, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It was out of pure love that God sent His only Son to save us. And this little cat, a beautiful creation of God, demonstrated this same love during his life.

How many times, metaphorically speaking, are we like those apartment occupants who are abusing the cat just because he didn’t exactly fit the standard of beauty they thought he should? Now I don’t specifically mean throwing rocks at someone or squirting them with a water hose, but it can be any variety of things: impatience, saying something rude, completely ignoring someone, or anything where we aren’t showing love towards our neighbor. That person whom we may think is “ugly,” and by ugly I don’t necessarily mean what most people think of when the term ugly is used, but I mean “different”; whether it be a person of a different race, culture, social class, etc. It makes me think about in Hebrews where we are told to “not forget hospitality, for through this some have unwittingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2). Or the words of Christ on the last day, “Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).

If we are true Christians we are going to be ugly to the world. Plain and simple. “18 If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:18, 19). And this story has reminded me just how much hatred is in the world. The cat isn’t the one that is ugly, but it is the world that is ugly. The cat may physically appear horrific to many, but on the inside, he had a pureness and fullness of love and to me that makes him more beautiful than anything. Think again about Jesus and the Pharisees:

25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and unrighteousness. 26 Blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and dish, so that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness. 28 Thus also you outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

This is how the world still is today. Everyone is worried about the outside, but inside they are full of every evil. It is very heart-breaking to see so much strife, hatred, greed, immorality, and so much else in the world. If we want to be Christians and follow Christ, then we must first cleanse the inside and the outside will follow. We can’t worry about the outside first, or what others think about our outward appearances. We are here to serve God. As Paul says in Galatians, “for do I just now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). We cannot please men and, at the same time, be bondservants of Christ.

The last line of the article the man wrote says, “Many people want to be richer, more successful, well liked, beautiful, but for me, I will always try to be Ugly.” And it is exactly that thought that I would like to leave you with. Instead of striving for worldly beauty, we should all try to be Ugly.

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