The Good Shepherd free media from Wikimedia Commons

The Good Shepherd
free media from Wikimedia Commons

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
 Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
 They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
”  Psalm 19:1-4

In reading a recent post on the ReKnew blog (Greg Boyd’s), it struck me again how the church could include the animal kingdom and stewardship of the earth into the Gospel message that they teach, but miss the opportunity to do so (see “God’s Doctrine...” for another call to the church to bring animals into theological discussion).  “The Worst Heresy That Never Got Anyone Burned at the Stakeis a fabulous post.  It does a good job of explaining the difference between judgment and discernment.  We don’t judge others, separate ourselves from them or place ourselves above them, but we can and should discern what is and isn’t of the Kingdom.
In this context, thinking about the Kingdom of God and what “is and isn’t of it”, let’s look at what is said in the quote below from Greg’s post (link above), and include the animal kingdom as we read it:

Greg just finished reminding us of what the apostle Paul said, “… even the best deeds and most impressive religious phenomenon and achievements are simply worthless religious noise (“clanging cymbals”) unless they are motivated by and express Jesus-looking love (1 Cor 13)”; and then he says:  “In this light, what are we to think of Christians when, in “the name of Christ” and for “the glory of God,” they engage in any type of violence? In days past, the Church that tortured and murdered its enemies was certainly “orthodox” in its core beliefs. It believed in the Trinity, the Incarnation, the atonement, the need for grace, the inspiration of the Bible and many other true things.
…… the NT teaches that anything that doesn’t express Christ-like love is devoid of Kingdom value, however true and impressive it might otherwise be, we can only conclude that the Church that engaged in this anti-Christ activity was not the Kingdom. Without love, believing all the true beliefs in the world is worthless. James makes this very point by reminding us: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (Jas 2:19).”
The point he is making about the church and it’s willingness to sacrifice love to be “right” in what it considers it’s core beliefs, as well as Christians engaging in any type of violence, is what we will refer to while reading the message with animals in mind.  This is where we can take his message and apply it to what the church does when it stands stubbornly on it’s perceived doctrine, refusing to include animals as part of what the Gospel message of self-sacrificial love is all about.
The church is willing to sacrifice it’s stewardship of the animal kingdom which is supposed to be lovingly done in the Image of God, over the way it interprets what it believes the Bible is saying about parts of scripture that has been used as a license to ignore the exploitation of them (just one example, Peter’s vision in Acts 10:9-17, which is often used to justify eating animals, is actually a vision to show Peter that God accepts all people who fear Him and do what is right, V34, and has nothing to do with food).  Instead of being light and salt to the world, providing a loving example of what it means to be Christ-like toward the animal kingdom, and standing up to anything that falls short of Christ-like behavior or threatens it, the church partakes in the exploitation.
What we have done with the animal kingdom has been beneficial to the human race.  We use them for food, clothing, entertainment, medicine, science – never in history has mankind been in the position he is today to be able to wield nature (and animals) to suit his every perceived purpose.  But what are God’s intentions on our “use” of His animal kingdom and the earth?  Our guide in understanding His highest will in these matters ought to come from before the fall, not after it.  And even though perhaps God has had to make some concessions since the fall [for example, after the flood (Genesis 9) in allowing animals for food, which came with  many stipulations on how we were suppose to treat them and it could be argued was a temporary concession], His highest goal has been to redeem and restore all of us, animals and the rest of creation included, to His original purposes for it.
I am not saying that Greg necessarily should have included animals in this particular post.  It is simply an example of how, in the right venue, animals and creation could and should be included in church messages at every opportunity so that people can begin to think about them and bring them in to the main stream of their every day lives.  God’s Kingdom people need to make an association with where leather and fur comes from, where their food comes from, how to shop, travel, read labels, know what a GMO is, how and where packaging comes from, where or what we drive today given the cost to God’s creation of burning fossil fuels.
As Kingdom people our choices should reflect Kingdom ethics and values (be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds – Romans 12:2).  Consumerism is our modern world’s idol, and is destroying God’s most precious and beautiful creation.  Church leaders, teachers, and pastors – we are calling on you to begin speaking to your congregations as to what Christ-like love would look like toward creation were we to display it – give them every day examples to live by – so that people can begin to connect the dots as to what in our consumer driven world is of the Kingdom and what is not; to see that, yes – animals, as well as humans – are supposed to be recipients of Christ-like love from us.
What goes on in the industries that have reduced the animal kingdom to mere machines – impersonal subjects at mankind’s disposal – is unequivocally violent, and as Greg said in his post, “…what are we to think of Christians when, in “the name of Christ” and for “the glory of God,” they engage in any type of violence?”  It may seem like what is being done to creation at our hands has little to do with “the name of Christ” or the “glory of God”, for haven’t we grown so accustomed to thinking about animals and nature as something God gave us to do what we want with, accustomed to the comforts our modern use of creation provides us, that we no longer think of the earth and animal kingdom as His?  Is it possible perhaps that we have grown so complacent and seemingly self-sufficient* over the centuries since Eden that we have all but forgotten where we came from, what our God given (and thus honorable) responsibilities for creation are, and where God wants to take us once again (back to Eden)?

*Seemingly self-sufficient in the West anyway, where it could be said that our way of life, or at least some of it, comes at the expense of other people groups in our own and other countries, and where all of the industrialized world is brought to us at the expense of creation.

It seems that in this light, “the name of Christ and glory of God” have everything to do with what is being done to creation at our hands.  Are we not to do everything to “His glory” (glory = character)?  Are we not ambassadors of Christ?  Was not the care of the earth and the animal kingdom our first mandate (for more on our first mandate,see this post)?
Nothing of what is happening on our fur farms, factory farms, Foie Gras factories; in our entertainment industries where animals are used (especially wild animals, like at the circus and in aquariums), in church back yards (like the 2014 St. Patrick’s Parish ‘Pig Rassle’ in America); or in puppy mills, in the wild and in our oceans as mankind continues to use the planet for his own purposes with little regard given to the needs of or damage he causes to the rest of creation looks anything like Christ-like love, in fact, all of it speaks of a people who entirely disrespect the Creator and what He has made (the list of grievances committed against creation, in particular the animal kingdom, is long).
So my call to God’s people is to ask:  As God’s children, shouldn’t we stand apart in as much as is possible, as light and salt to a dark world, that desperately needs to see examples of Christ-like love in every aspect of living life on God’s good earth?  Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves every day with every choice in the market place or anywhere we go as consumers, “Is this, or this not, of the Kingdom?”  Shouldn’t we stop partaking in, as much as possible, industries and systems that are full of systemic evil, especially when it comes to what we wear, how we shop, what we put on our plates?  None of this is to judge anyone, we are all in the same boat together, “all fall short of the glory (character) of God” (Romans 3:23).
The point is that once God opens our eyes to who we are in Christ and how we were meant to live and love and behave as those made in His image, as well as to the reasons He made us (to be in fellowship with Him and one another, over-seeing the earth and animal kingdom – in love and mercy and kindness we are to steward them), then we must step forward and learn how to be good stewards –  out of respect for God, respect for all that He has made, for Jesus sake, for the lost world’s sake, for His Kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven.”
The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”  Psalm 19:1

May God’s people look and see the character of God in the heavens and all the works of His hands; may God’s people listen and hear what God is saying through all He has created….the magnificent, glorious, wondrous, beautiful works of His hands!  God’s creation pours forth speech, reveals knowledge of the great love of our God though they use no words.  The Creator’s “voice” is all around us in all of nature, in every detail of every creature – longingly, lovingly calling to us, beckoning us to Himself, using no words!  Let’s “listen” and “see” God through His creation with all our hearts, especially His animals; then we shall experience the glory (character) of God.  Let’s allow God’s character to change us into His own Image, to turn our clanging cymbals into Christ-like love for ALL that God has made!
“Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
 They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
”   Psalm 19:2-4

Thank you for reading, we hope you are blessed by our blog, that if you are a visitor, will come again, and follow us! 
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We encourage you to be light and salt to the world, don’t be afraid to speak the truth as the Lord leads.  Tell your church leaders you want them to take up the issues concerning animals and what our Christ-like right relatedness to them is supposed to look like.  For Jesus sake!  ~  Kathy

My calling as a Child of the Creator is to take the Gospel, as it relates to the WHOLE creation, to the world; and to remind the Church of its Biblical responsibilities to non-human animals and the earth.
View all posts by Kathy →

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