Last week (Part One) we left off with a question: Does the church take seriously enough the divisions between humans and animals which Jesus shed blood over in order to reconcile ALL things to himself, as Colossians 1:19,20 points out?
Covenant at the Cross Continued…
Jesus said: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel (good news) to the whole creation.“ (Mark 16:15) And again: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1,2)
Today one does not need to look very far to see the Gospel is not such good news for animals nor the command to walk in the way of love practiced toward them in our churches beyond the casual (mostly forced) mention. Beyond those we consider pet family members, our use of them rarely takes into consideration their sentience. Consider how we use them for food; clothing; medicine/vivisection; as sport; in hunting where we exercise our dominion as that of predator of which is rarely needed any longer for food; and in entertainment which for them is likely pure hell.
Elephants, for example, cry. I followed the rescue story of Raju, who cried when he was finally rescued from a horribly abusive situation. Pigs are as smart if not smarter than dogs and “wag” their tails just like a dog when they are happy. In order for an elephant to be trained to perform in circuses, they have to be taken from their families as infants; they undergo horrific pain, suffering, loneliness and so do their families who, if still alive, are left behind to mourn their loss and pick up the pieces of their shattered family. ALL animals feel these emotions.
Imagine all of our own emotions were we in their place in any given situation we put them in. They experience everything we do – except they are not the ones made in the Image of God – a privileged position given us with grave and serious responsibilities for them as the weaker among us. They likely know not how to process our treatment of them. No wonder God put the fear of us in them – another choice that surely broke the Creator’s heart (Genesis 9:2).
Yahweh also makes a covenant with them that one day, they will live free of our tyranny, that they will also live free of the violence that often plagues their own fallen nature toward one another (the killing of each other for food may in large part have come about because humans have not left them much choice). Hosea 2:18 says, “In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky 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.” Isaiah says in chapter 11:6-9 the wolf will live with the lamb and a little child shall lead them; the cow and the bear shall feed together while their young lay down with each other; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox – signifying the future restoration of the created order. Since what Jesus did on the cross in essence restored the created order for humans and for our relationship with the animal kingdom, should we not also be making every effort to live in a fashion that is manifesting this accomplishment now?
Our treatment of animals matters in ways we may not even be aware of yet; it was and still is our first mandate responsibility to protect and care for them. Therefore, it is foundational to who we are as those created in God’s own Image that we treat them as Christ himself would. He will judge us one day on our treatment of them:
“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.” Genesis 9:4,5
“The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small– and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” Revelation 11:18
Just as the first book of the bible brings together humans and non-humans at the dawn of creation, the last book unites them in heavenly places. The book of Revelation repeatedly places both human and nonhuman creatures around the throne of God, at a time when the Lord “shall wipe away all tears.” (Revelation 21:4)
Thank you for reading and following our blog! We pray you are blessed by what we write and will share it widely with others as well as with your congregation and church leaders. Blessings ~ Kathy
For those who wish to read the entire piece beginning to end in one setting, or to print it, here is a Word version of Tearing Down The Walls.