As we move into the new year, Shepherding All God’s Creatures is going to be taking a look at and praying about what direction the Lord may be leading us in. We will be in touch as to what that means for the blog! Pray for us! One topic that has always been close to our hearts is prayer. Let’s pray that the new year brings a renewal from God of epic proportion in animal welfare and Christ-like looking Godly stewardship of the earth and animal kingdom within the church as well as within the rest of the world!
In the mean time, here is the latest post from Roslyne to bring in the new year, asking us, and a good question to start a new year:
What Kind Of God Do We Believe In?
For me, the most profound reason why Christians should take animal welfare seriously simply relates to this – what KIND of God do we believe in? Science teaches us that animals are capable of thought and feeling; they can experience pain and pleasure. What kind of God would create animals able to suffer or to know contentment and then be indifferent to how they are treated? A callous God like that is not one that I could reconcile with my understanding of Jesus.
Scripture describes how God cares for His creatures, “He gives the animals their food, He feeds the young ravens when they cry” (Psalm 147). They share in the Sabbath (Exodus 20) and oxen must not be muzzled to prevent them from eating whilst working in fields (Deut 25).
In Genesis 1, humankind is given “dominion” over the animals. This does not mean a right to exploit, but rather a duty to care for our fellow creatures. God gives us power to serve and to care for the weak and powerless, not to trample them.
This doesn’t mean there is no difference between humans and animals in Christian teaching. Humans are unique and special because they alone are made in the “image” of God and are capable of moral thought and understanding. Animals do not have the capacity to sin, neither do they have the capacity to make moral choices. A slipper-chewing puppy might be a source of frustration, but he is not a sinner! Our species alone has the ability to make moral decisions and to act in a way which is good or bad.
As humans, we have the freedom to choose to respond to God and endeavour to live in a way which draws us closer to Him. I’m sure most of us would say that claiming to live a Christian lifestyle whilst dismissing the needs of the poor and marginalised, was a contradiction in terms. Similarly, caring for the welfare of animals is not something which is an optional part of being a Christian. It is our duty as disciples and it should also be our instinct, if we are truly growing more like our compassionate God.
Sadly, thousands of spiritually thirsty animal welfarists see Christians as being indifferent to the suffering of animals! This is because most of us fail to seek out cruelty-free or free-range products and just don’t want to know about legalised animal abuse, thus limiting Christ’s Lordship to that of humankind only.
None of us need much convincing that the world is not as it should be. Our fallenness is at the heart of all our worldly systems, including vivisection labs, factory farms, bloodsports, fur farms, animal-based entertainment etc. Humankind’s natural desire to improve its health, living standards and pleasure pursuits, has turned into the selfish materialism and greed now threatening all creation. In Romans 8, Paul describes the sufferings of a fallen creation, “all of creation groans with pain like the pain of childbirth” (Romans 8:22), a creation awaiting a redemption which is dependent upon the fulfillment of the sons of God (mankind).
So as we begin the New Year, will people, especially those concerned about the animal kingdom, listen to the Church’s appeal to them to turn to Christ? I think they will – but only if we proclaim the Gospel message FULLY by word AND by deed. As the hymn goes – we do have a Gospel to proclaim, a Gospel desperately needed in our time: the Good News that there is a Saviour for all creatures, both human and animal, from this world’s darkness, a Saviour whose name is Christ Jesus.
Thank you for reading and following our blog! We hope you will ‘like’ and ‘share’ it! Your comments are always welcome! ~Ros