In the video below, a little child is troubled by the presence of a golden retriever while strangely consoled by a stuffed lion. The solution? Disguise the dog as a lion so that the child will let the dog approach. It seems a rather strange tactic; most would say that dogs are much nicer than lions. But try telling that to the little girl!
I see two biblical themes here:
The first theme is that God met the fallen human race where we were in order to lead us to something better. When people today read the early history of the Bible, most of us are aghast at the level of violence. In ancient times there were no settled laws, no legislatures, no agreed-upon borders between nations, no judges, and no police; there was only fierce tribalism. Brutal battles usually settled land disputes and other disagreements. Annihilating one’s adversary through total physical destruction and genocidal removal was an accepted strategy.
This is where God met ancient Israel. They only understood the fierce lion, not the Lamb of Sacrifice. God would lead them there, but first He had to choose a people, clear the land for them, and then settle them there. Thus He first came to them as Yahweh Sabaoth (the LORD of armies) and summoned them to fierce battle to take the Promised Land by force.
Soon enough, God would lead them to understand more peaceful methods, but for the time being violence was all they understood. Israel was much like the child in the video, who strangely prefers the lion to the gentler dog. So, then, look like the lion and establish the relationship; gentler things will come later.
The second theme is that of St. Paul, who said, To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings (1 Cor 9:22-23).
St. Paul was willing to set aside his own preferences and (to some degree) to become all things to all people in order to save them. St. Paul refers here not to the truth, but to cultural things such as dietary matters, language, wealth, perceived strengths, and other sensibilities. He did this in order to establish a relationship and to open the door to the Gospel. Some today interpret St. Paul too broadly, saying that we should set aside moral and doctrinal teachings in order to reach people. But note that St. Paul only sets aside certain things, and those “for the sake of the Gospel that I may share its blessings.” Thus, the truth of the Gospel is the point! If food or what sort of headgear I wear gets in the way, then away with it—but never away with the truth of the Gospel. Opening the door to the Gospel is the whole purpose!
And thus in this video the dog is “willing” to don lion headgear in order to reach the child. He’s willing to become lion-like in order to show her the truth of canine loyalty.
I know this may seem like a stretch, but I hope you get the point. Enjoy the video!