“In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.” (Hosea 2:18)
The recent news about the near blind elderly dog that was left on the side of a busy highway while his pet parent was arrested has haunted me since reading it. I’ve tried to discern a proper response to it in light of the war we are in Spiritually while bearing in mind that Paul told us that we are to “above all, put on love” in all we do (Col 3:14).
One of the things I’ve found since becoming involved in animal advocacy is that sometimes I’m awakened in the night with agony over something that has happened in the world involving animals. I pour myself into prayer at these times, looking for the Lord’s comfort, for His lead, what the response is to be; or, as is often the case, how not to react – looking for discernment on what not to do or say in as much or more as to what to do or say. These can be agonizing times because the automatic inclination is anger, judgment and a knee-jerk reaction. Not to say that anger is not an appropriate response. The question becomes “how do we handle the anger we feel that is an appropriate response appropriately?” God told us “not to sin in our anger. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” (Eph 4:26)
It is horrifically painful for Jesus following animal advocates to know what they know, and then find that the source for which they automatically think to go (the church) to deal with what is happening (what to do and not do Spiritually) is closed to the subject or cannot help much because there isn’t a theology for creation care issues of this sort, or it’s just not seen as part of the jurisdiction of church matters, and there isn’t anyone to talk with to get spiritual guidance – in large part, there isn’t any teaching on what to do or how to handle these things spiritually; animals are marginalized if they hit the radar of church matters at all.
So where do we go for help? How do we find support, leadership, other Jesus followers with whom we can form bonds who can help guide us if there aren’t leaders readily found well versed in a biblical perspective of creation care issues?
The secular animal welfare world does have a lot to offer in this area, and labors hard in what they do; they are not given the credit they deserve for their work. Even so, however wonderful, far reaching, or appropriately these organizations may perform in their outreach and rescue, there is still a sense of something missing; that we are putting band aids on these matters and not addressing what is inherently wrong. And we would be right in this intuition. What is inherently wrong is so Spiritually – the secular world needs the guidance of the Creator and of His viceroys in these matters. But what do we do? We know from hours spent in the Word or in church, or in our guts by the Holy Spirit that handling these matters in a loving fashion is absolutely pertinent, but how do we do that? How do we not react with disdain for the perpetrator? How do we handle our grief at what is happening and not sin out of anger? How do we handle the silence of the church and not sin out of anger at their complacency? How are we to appropriately involve ourselves in advocacy in the secular world in light of the fact that we may not be able to find a Christian advocacy group in our locale (there are a few and prayerfully that number will be growing; in the coming days ahead we will update our resource list to include as many as we can find; you may want to start one in your own area – more to come on that as well!)?
These are very serious questions being asked. It is urgent that we begin to find the Spiritual help, the Christian humane education needed on the issues animal advocates are facing.
So our intuitions in check then, we are wise to be careful what we say and do; even if it appears we must do something, it is better we don’t do anything until we are certain we can act in accordance with God’s Word. There are three things that cannot be retrieved (by “Ali the Lion, Caliph of Islam”):
- The arrow once sped from the bow
- The word spoken in haste
- The missed opportunity
Great words that most certainly most of us who love animals have been perplexed about at some point in our advocacy. We cannot stop the aftermath of the arrow being released from the bow of sarcasm and insult, judgment or hatred; or the word spoken, heard or written in haste that only too often divides us even further as we look for blame and out of anger the need to force justice. We’ve most likely experienced it second hand or, as none of us are blameless, we’ve done it too often ourselves. All of us fall short of expressing God-like character. There is much room with the lack of sound biblical creation care ministries for all of us to miss opportunities to teach, admonish, help perpetrators find repentance and Jesus; there is a ton of room for all of us to begin seeing through the eyes of the Lord the problem of evil being done to animals, it’s source, and what to do about it since Satan uses people as agents to unleash his evil through.
The church’s response (or lack of) to animal welfare over the centuries is highly complicated – we cannot become bitter or judgmental with their silence on these matters. We cannot react in the same ways that some in secular communities do, either, for our proper relationship with animals needs to be understood through our relationship with our Creator. It is important for us to understand what has gone wrong, to see where we came from in order to assess where we need to go instead, to turn us in a more scriptural and truthful, loving and merciful direction when it comes to animals and our shepherding of them. Much of this blog has been an attempt to map some of this out, to try and understand what has happened (for earlier posts about this in particular, see “Mankind’s Dominion, Parts One, Two, Three), and to readdress the issues from a biblical perspective. Roslyne’s recent posts, Listen and Speak Part One and Part Two, have addressed some of the responses that Christians have to animal welfare while insightfully weaving the parable of the sower into a practical message about “sowing.” What is it that we sow? How is sowing part of spiritual warfare? How does sowing relate to the animal kingdom? We will address these questions and more in following posts as they pertain to animals and Spiritual Warfare.
For now, let’s begin with thinking about what happened to this little white dog. What is the proper reaction as a Jesus follower? I think anyone following this blog can tell, as is the case as well in some other Christian circles [some insightful, well written, scripturally grounded books on the matter have been written: Roslyne Smith’s compilation of work done by ACC in England, Animal Welfare: Through The Cross, Matthew Scully and Andrew Linzey are two other authors that come to mind, and Greg Boyd (two minute video, Greg on animals and the kingdom of God) is one of the few Christian pastors and theologians who speak out on the issues, see our Resources page for more], we are hearing from God that for certain it does not mean turning a blind eye; it also does not mean that this is somehow “God’s will and He will make all things right” (see this sermon). This has never been the proper response.
What has happened in this police officer’s life to bring him to the place where he would leave a defenseless half blind dog on the highway we don’t know. We know it wasn’t right what he did; we don’t know if he understands this, or if he will repent (repent means not only to humble ourselves and ask God to forgive us when we wrong others and/or Him, but to turn from anything/any behavior that falls short of the Godly character He created us to display).
The world does not recognize the need for us to repent of what we do that harms another in the Spiritual sense, to turn to God for direction and right-relatedness to the world around us. Though we may instinctively know right from wrong (God wrote it on our hearts), or, have been taught a worldly view of not harming one another, or even a Christian view, the animal kingdom has been left out on all fronts in being part of those we “harm” or “wrong” Spiritually. Sin is anything that breaks covenant or relationship with God and others and falls short of God’s ideal; animals have unfortunately been excluded from this covenant by us – but not by God. It is not occurring to the world or even the church that God would have us see His animals as part of the battle ground that Satan has a stronghold over through us, and part of what we are supposed to protect and redeem from Satan’s power. The hope is that through these next few posts, we can see Spiritual Warfare in such a way that we can all begin together to fight against Satan’s power over people and churches in order to break chains that bind and blind us to our right relationship with the animal kingdom; to see our place in fighting against powers that harden hearts to the Lord’s calling upon all of us to take a stand against animal abuse and cruelty, just as He calls us to stand against any other cruelty or injustice to the weak, downtrodden, forgotten, hungry, hurting, homeless, lost, and weaker amongst us.
Let’s pray together about this little white dog, for the man who left him on the busy highway, for the people who’s hearts are broken at the loss of their beloved Guero, and ask guidance about all this. Lord please speak to us, tell us how we are to respond to this world full of pain and agony within the animal kingdom – how are we to best advocate for them that reflects Your love for them and the perpetrators? How are we to fight against Satan – to stand, speak, and act in truth, to remain faithful to You, while speaking to the world and the church on behalf of You for Your animals?
Your thoughts are welcome; thank you for reading this post, please continue to follow us! Stay tuned for more on the topic of Spiritual Warfare and the Animal Kingdom. ~Kathy