If you know me at all, you know I love our dog Jasper. He just turned 11 last week, so the thought of him getting older is hard for me. In fact, anytime we talk about him passing away, I’ll likely tear up. As you can see from the pictures, he’s loved and a big part of our lives for entertainment and companionship. I know that I will always have a dog in my life. So why do we care for animals so much? Or should we care for animals? What’s their role in this world anyway?
We see in the creation account in Genesis 1:20-25, God carefully and beautifully creates animals to roam and swim on land and sea. And he saw that it was good. That was part of his plan for this earth to be filled not only with humanity, but also with animals! He was pleased with the creatures he created. Following the creation of animals in Genesis 1, we see the creation of humanity. God creates man in His own image, and immediately calls humanity to have dominion over all creatures living on earth. As God’s images on earth, humanity is called to rule over every living thing. However, these commands are not a mandate to exploit the earth and its creatures to satisfy our greed. The fact that Adam and Eve were created in God’s image implies His expectation that humanity will use the earth wisely, and govern it with the same responsibility and care that God has towards all of His creation. As little images of God, we are to care for his creation and creatures.
God also provides for both mankind and animals to have food to eat; to continue to live and prosper and flourish on earth (Genesis 1:29-30). God desires for animals to be an integral part of this world! So much so, that when we read the account of Noah and the flood over the entire earth, God makes provisions for Noah to bring every living creature onto the ark with him – every animal, male and female, so that they may live and reproduce over the entire earth. By taking into the ark two of every living thing, Noah displays the caring oversight that all people were expected to have for other living creatures.
So what does this mean for you? You know, some people say they aren’t animal people; some say they don’t have a desire for a pet, or want the responsibility of taking care of a living creature. I understand that pets aren’t for everyone. But I do think we have to consider our heart towards these creatures that God created. Do you see them as worthless, or any less of creation? Or do you see that God cares so much for the entire world that he created animals as a reflection of his creativity and wonder. Think of all the exotic animals across the world: think of the diverse creatures, from the tiniest fruit fly to the enormous blue whale. He made animals that swim and live under water; he made animals that run faster than cars, and climb higher than our houses. He made creatures that fly! And think about the diverse roles animals play in habitats across the world that we haven’t even explored. Animals fulfill such a large part of the world’s ecosystems that allow you and I to live healthy lives!
Although humanity is the crown of creation, I think our view of living creatures on this earth is crucial to our faithfulness in the Christian life. Proverbs 12:10 says, “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast.” A righteous person cares even for his animals. When we begin to understand that God calls us to image Him in our care for animals on this earth, we will grow in our faithfulness in our dominion over the earth.