The following article is based on a talk given by May Tripp at the Retreat For Animal Welfare, Maryvale, 19th June, 1993
When I first began to think about this talk I fully intended to speak about the work of Animal Christian Concern, about our various campaigns, about the Services we had held, the practical difficulties we had faced and the help we had received. But almost as soon as I had begun to write I found that the Cross was dominating my thoughts and that the talk had changed direction away from the practicalities of our work and towards the concerns of all those enquirers who seek our help, many of whom never even become our members. Most of these people are suffering in some way either from personal problems or vicariously for creation. Almost invariably their impression of Christians seems to be that we are comfortable people who have got life, “taped”, and that within our tidy churches we, and all other things within, are in perfect order.
But it isn’t like that at all, it never has been. The followers of Jesus who watched His crucifixion – or fled in terror – had to work their way through that experience until, with the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1v8) they became a NEW CREATION. After that, they had to endure all manner of troubles and persecutions whilst they proclaimed His Name and the Gospel. So it has been throughout the ages and so it still is. Christians still face religious and political persecution in some parts of the world. In Africa they face civil war, famine, starvation; recently in southern Sudan 100 Christian leaders were crucified by government troops. In Czechoslovakia they face the destructive pollution and poverty of their country as they preach the Gospel amongst those who have been taught to hate all religion. They now send ACC literature to Christian Centres in the other countries of Eastern Europe. In Canada the Christian animal welfarists have to live with the hunting and trapping which is ever around them. Here, in our own country, we Christians suffer the pains of unemployment, broken relationships, homelessness and abuse.
Why? Why doesn’t our Lord look after us rather better? It is an age-old question and the only answer we can find lies in the Cross. Let us begin by looking at some of the concerns raised by those who seek our help.
The most difficult enquiries we have to deal with are those – and there are very many of them – which concern vegetarianism. The letters and phone calls we receive on this subject are filled with grief, anger and confusion about the suffering and slaughter of those animals used for food and they question the love of God who allows, even created, or so they believe, that pattern of suffering …and they question the compassion of Jesus who, as Lord of Creation, has Himself an involvement in it. What can we say! I am sure that all of us in this room can identify with the pain of these enquirers. How often it is said that we animal welfarists are emotional, use emotive language. Well, how can this not be so when feelings run so strong? Some of these enquirers on vegetarianism are already Christians, but most of them are simply reaching out to Christianity and they are more closely linked with other faiths and New Age philosophies. This is today’s pattern, of course. Until this last decade the Christian Churches have allowed, or even positively encouraged, vegetarians and animal welfarists to walk away from Christianity.
One of our most recent members is a young man, a vegetarian who is looking into our faith, trying to know Christ for himself. He has been taking ACC literature into his local church, but the response there has been disappointing. He has been told how much the Christians agree with our literature but, in his own words, that: “as factory farming and vivisection can never be stopped, there isn’t much point in abstaining from their products. Also, that I have no right putting Christians on guilt-trips.” He then expressed his puzzlement about something he had been told: “that Jesus didn’t want ANY laws on food and said that it is not what goes into your mouth that is important but what comes out of it: therefore, what happens to an animal before it is eaten is not an issue.” The young man went on to ask for an explanation of all this and commented: “I understand that a law cannot be passed forbidding people to eat flesh (and God made a compromise on this matter) as abstaining from flesh eating is an act of love and above the law.”
Well, from out of the mouths of, “babes and sucklings”, as they say (Psalm 8). It seems to me that this young seeker already knows Jesus far better than the established Christians who seem to have missed the whole point of Matthew 15 v 1-20.
Stay tuned for part four of our Lenten series and more of “Through The Cross To The New Creation, The Church In Action” soon. For those who would like to read the entire article: THROUGH-THE-CROSS Article 10
Thank you for reading and following our blog; we hope you are blessed by our work! ~Kathy