In Part One, we left off with a series of questions. Let’s look into the last one, “How does the enemy lie, divide, and conquer within animal welfare outreach efforts we try for God’s Kingdom?”
“The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world…”
It is important we examine how animal welfare advocacy in the world functions without God at the center of the movement in order to understand the great need we have as followers of Christ to be a part of it in an effective way for God and the Kingdom he is building upon the earth.
Secular animal welfare movements are usually not centered on God. It is an important distinction. His intentions always have been that he be at the center of his creation in all that we do – he is the source of all life. This distinction is not being made to divide people or groups, nor to judge those who approach animal welfare from a secular point of view; it is not said to judge those who perhaps are atheist/agnostic or subscribe to a different religious viewpoint than that of the Gospel message. In fact, secular animal welfare functions in large part as the eyes and ears, hands and feet of God (though most do not know it) by shedding light on the darkness that has creation held hostage. Their tireless efforts raise awareness, bring mercy, rescue, and love to the earth and animals which are neglected, abused, tortured and exploited. God uses these means perhaps because the church as a whole historically has not taught about nor put on display Christ-like stewardship as he intended. He uses governments, other established man-made organizations, institutions or movements, orchestrating as much good out of them as he can in order to bring about his kingdom on earth (Romans 8:28).
Yet an important element is missing. The recognition that God reveals himself to us through creation. When we destroy creation, we destroy his revelation.
A little history…
Satan has been at war with God likely long before we were here (see this and this article; also the series, Spiritual Warfare and the Animal Kingdom). Gap Creationism which “posits that the six-yom creation period, as described in the Book of Genesis, involved six literal 24-hour days (light being “day” and dark “night” as God specified), but that there was a gap of time between two distinct creations in the first and the second verses of Genesis, explaining many scientific observations, including the age of the Earth.” Greg Boyd on ReKnew.org has written several good articles about this view (here). Referring again to Gap Creationism:
“For some, the gap theory allows both the Genesis creation account and geological science to be inerrant in matters of scientific fact. Gap creationists believe that certain facts about the past and the age of the Earth have been omitted from the Genesis account; they hold that there was a gap of time in the Biblical account that lasted an unknown number of years between a first creation in Genesis 1:1 and a second creation in Genesis 1:2-31. By positing such an event, various observations in a wide range of fields, including the age of the Earth, the age of the universe, dinosaurs, fossils, ice cores, ice ages, and geological formations are allowed by adherents to have occurred as outlined by science without contradicting their literal belief in Genesis.” (Gap Creationism, Interpretation of Genesis)
Understanding when humans may have appeared within the creation story sheds light on the dilemma we are in with evil; it also helps us see God’s problem with it. God’s part and our part when it comes to redemption from evil is much clearer. I am not here talking about salvation, which is a free gift. We cannot earn salvation. But we do have a part in our redemption now. Not conforming to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2), manifesting his will on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10), relying on Jesus as the source of life (Book of John), are some examples.
Open Theism is another theological viewpoint that has helped. God created the angels and us with a certain amount of free will for the purpose of love, and love must be chosen. We are not puppets on a string; neither is the angelic realm. We can thwart his will, just as Satan has done. When we do, we display a Satanic image rather than the loving image of our Creator.
God created us to be in relationship with himself while also placing us as overseers of the animals and the earth, to “rule and subdue” (Genesis 1:28), to “care for, keep and/or maintain” the garden (Genesis 2:15). We were to occupy the land, protect both the animals and earth from forces of chaos and evil, while living completely dependent upon God as the source of life and well-being. When the first humans listened instead to Satan’s lie that we could “be like God” and know “good from evil” (Genesis 3:4), the decision to eat of the forbidden fruit (knowing good and evil) not only broke the covenant agreement initiated by God between God and man, but gave Satan control in essence over the Garden through our separation from God and our brokenness. Satan could then use mankind not only to destroy mankind but also everything God created.
Fast forward a few centuries. Jesus has come, died and rose again. We now know that God reveals himself to us in a few ways – through our conscience and imagination; through scripture; through Christ; and through creation.
The fullness of God’s revelation and his character is through Christ. All we need to know about God’s character and what he is up to in the world as far as his church and it’s mission is concerned can be found in Christ (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 2:9; John 14:6; John 1:18; a good article on this can be found here).
In revealing himself to us through what he has made, however, is unique. We can easily see God’s attributes. He is powerful, intelligent, creative, kind, merciful, has a sense of humor, is gracious and righteous. He is personal – if we can communicate in all the ways we do, and the creation can communicate with those of their own kind as well as with other species and with us – then so can God! Those who have pet cats or dogs or have been on a farm and paid attention know that animals speak to us in many different ways. We speak to animals when we love them and care for their needs.
What is happening spiritually in the world can be seen by what is happening physically to the creation. One of the major ways that Satan lies, divides and conquers is through the creation. There is a direct correlation to godlessness in our societies and the destruction of creation because people are hungry for God, truth, and love but don’t know it. Satan first convinced God’s church that animals are of no theological concern, that we could use them in ways we see fit without consequences to us, them, or the earth. He then divides believers from secular animal welfare and secular animal welfare from believers. In keeping us divided, he not only destroys the church’s outreach toward non-believers in the animal welfare movement, he can continue to convince us to use and ravage creation inappropriately in the ways we do, which destroys God’s physical revelation to all of us. Satan is able to further grieve God’s heart, while we the church, break it even more. The church – which is charged with revealing God to the world by how we live on the earth, how we shepherd creation, which is every bit as important as how we teach and preach – is made ineffective.
Animal welfare in the secular world is doing the best it can without God being placed at it’s center. So it is foundational to who we are as the church to become aware of these dynamics, seek an understanding from God of our charge as stewards, resist evil forces that seek to divide and conquer us over issues regarding creation. It is important we portray Christ ourselves living in a right relationship with God, others, the animals and the earth so that we attract the lost to the kingdom. And it is imperative that the church as a whole begin to teach their communities the theological meaning of why we must care for creation:
Creation is God’s revelation of himself to us in tangible ways by what we see, feel, touch, smell and hear. Not only does creation reveal him, he cares for us through it! For example, the sun and the rain nourish the earth and all of us, providing vegetation for all to eat. He is in the beauty of a sunset, the quiet of the breeze across a lake or in rustling leaves of a tree; he is in the eyes of a cat, the character of a cow, the majesty of an elephant, the speed of the ostrich; he is in the miracle of birth whether it be a human baby or a four legged one. All was designed to please him, all was made out of love, all were made to live in covenant with him enjoying complete Shalom!
Thank you for reading/following our blog! We hope you will share these messages widely with others, and are blessed by them. Comments are welcome. ~Kathy