The task of Christian Animal Welfarists has always been twofold:-
First, to persuade our fellow Christians that a concern for the wellbeing and rights of animals is not merely a sentimental idiosyncrasy, but an essential feature of Christian stewardship: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain …”
Second, to attempt to draw secular animal welfarists into an awareness of the fullness of Christ’s love for them, as well as of His love for creation “… for the earth shall be full of the glory of the Lord” (Isaiah 11).
Reaching Out For The Kingdom
Those of us who attempt to live a life free from exploitation of any other sentient creature, be it human or animal, and who centre this ideal in the person and saving grace of Jesus Christ, are then, reaching out for the Kingdom of God, for the perfection of a life in Christ.
It’s hard for some to grasp this idea. Just recently for example, I’ve been asked why the Church:
- doesn’t speak out against animal cruelty and for the responsibility of the stewardship of animals;
- doesn’t recognise that, until we are at peace with all of God’s creation, we will not have Peace;
- doesn’t address that, knowingly contributing to cruelty, is a sin against God;
- insists on ignorance when it comes to getting informed on immense suffering in horrendous factory farming and killing realities
Over the years, I’ve heard such comments from believers as, “Animals are there for our use”; “But there are so many human concerns and we should come first”; “I don’t see any need to pray for suffering animals”; “I don’t care for animals myself “. Yet, how can a follower of Jesus say they don’t care about His creation? If we are followers of Christ, shouldn’t His interests be our interests? As followers, shouldn’t we follow His way, not ours? Isn’t His way the way of caring for all His creation?
I believe the answer to each of these questions is that, in this fallen world, the Kingdom of God is an impossible ideal for all of us and that it will continue to be so until we are redeemed in the Lord. We are all failures of one sort or another. Some of us may be the strictest of vegans, yet in our hearts may nurture an intolerance of others which borders on hatred; some of us may be ‘born-again’ Christians, yet indulgently continue to support the horrors of the factory farm and slaughter house. Who of us is perfect?
I often feel to be sitting deep in the vortex of a whirlpool of attitudes. I’m only thankful that Christ is in there with me, encouraging me to hold fast to the Gospel. Together animals and humans await the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 1 v 9-10). My belief is that each one of us has a part to play in the release of creation from the darkness of evil to the light of God’s love (Romans 8 v 19-22). But this will only ever be done, not in the hands of fallen man, but in Christ Jesus who is Lord of Creation (Colossians 1 v 19-20).
In their implied complicity with animal abuse, Christians have played a huge part in the loss of many thousands of animal welfarists, many of whom I’ve seen turn away from Christ to embrace other religions or New Age cults.
“Thy Kingdom Come”
Our main work, therefore, is to appeal within the churches for a truly Christian stewardship of creation which, if successful, could improve the lot of countless laboratory, factory farmed, trapped and hunted animals. We aim for prayer which will lead the Church to Christian fellowship with His animals and which, in turn, will lead animal welfarists to faith in Christ.
Revelation 11 v 15-18 shows that, in the end, the offer of mercy will be withdrawn and the kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of Christ. Those of us who pray, “Thy Kingdom come”, will one day see our prayers answered. The Kingdom will come in answer to the prayers of the Church:-
- Ancient enemies will live together in harmony – “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb”;
- Predators will become vegetarian – “the lion shall eat straw like the ox”;
- All will be domesticated – “a little child shall lead them”;
- And all will be enfolded in a single Peace – “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 11)!
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