Loving God and Animals

Reports came out a week or so ago that McDonald’s and Target were dropping their egg suppliers due to instances of mistreatment and cruelty towards chickens, by workers in some of those chicken plants. Are these companies dropping these suppliers due to their convictions that animals are to be treated with dignity? I don’t know it could be more of a PR move due to pressure by an animal rights group. Reports of animal cruelty come up rather frequently. It seems that those who are speaking up and pushing for animal rights are groups like PETA, the Humane Society, or other groups some might call “environmentalist radicals”. Where is the Christian voice in the midst of all of this? Maybe I’m not hearing it, or its not being reported. Maybe it is that we are just silent. Maybe we think we should be investing our time in more important things like “saving souls”. What does our general silence communicate? What does it say about God, and His character, His heart? Could our silence actually be anti-evangelism?

Genesis 1 and 2 tells us that God made man in His image, to reflect and represent His good rule and tender care on this earth, to demonstrate His glory. This involved caring for humanity and the other creatures and creation (Gen 1:26-28 Gen 2:15). Our sin distorted this responsibility and creation suffered (Gen 3:17-19 Gen 7:17-24 Rom 8:18-25).

But we see in Scripture that God cares for humans as well as animals. God saved not only Noah and his family but also many animals. The Noahic covenant in Gen 9:8-17 was made with Noah and his offspring as well as the animals (there are at least 4 specific references to animals in this passage). (Also see Exodus 20:8-11, 23:12 Deut. 22:4 Deut 25:4 Jonah 4:11)

If God created all things for His glory and He cares for them and has entrusted humanity to do the same, should not Christians as “renewed humanity” be visibly active in the world fulfilling part of our purpose and reflecting our Creator? Has God in His grace not restored this privilege to us? Are we neglecting this part of our calling? Do some non-believers image God more clearly in this area than Christians do?  Isn’t the good news that in Christ, God is restoring all of creation to its original purpose (Col. 1:19-20) ? Is it not our privilege as citizens of the Kingdom to live this out now? Every square inch of creation is His.

What does this look like for us? Is there more to being a Christian business than being members of a Christian association, or playing Christian music on the speakers, or closing on Sundays? Should it matter to us how animals are cared for before they end up on our plate? Can we more incorporate the Biblical worldview into our practice? How would our home life change as a result of embracing this calling? What impact would these changes have in our evangelism and engaging the world? What do you think are some reasons we fail to live this out?

For more on this see this free and somewhat brief article by Michael Williams, “The Chief End of Animals”. And for a longer and more expensive look, see Imaging God: Dominon as Stewardship by Douglas John Hall.

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