When I was young, I worked as a volunteer at the Humane Society, my brother and I formed a neighborhood animal lovers group and I have owned about every pet that it was legal to own.
To this day, I intervene if someone is cruel to an animal, even if I see children smashing toads on the road for sport. It makes no sense to me whatsoever to kill a living creature unless it is harmful or people depend on it for food.
Living in rural areas, I have appreciated the care and attention that farmer’s and ranchers give to their livestock that goes beyond their personal dependence on them for income. They truly show concern about the creatures that they are responsible for.
As much as I enjoy animals though, may the good Lord help me, if I ever place more compassion and mercy on an animal than a fellow human being.
In reading Luke 13:10-17, I was struck by the impact of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees regarding the issue of keeping the Sabbath as he used an example of a woman in need.
“Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.”
The Pharisee’s had great rules about following the Sabbath but were well aware that they owned animals that depended on them for care every single day. This meant that they needed food and water even on the Sabbath. The original intent of the Sabbath was that God knew that man needed to take a day to rest from work. It never was an excuse to neglect the care of those who needed assistance. The Pharisees understood this when it came to their animals but not when it came to the needs of humans.
I tell you, for people who are suffering like this woman did for 18 years, one more day of pain is one day too many! Yet to the Pharisees, she needed a scheduled appointment on one of the other 6 days of the week!
We think we are not hypocrites like these Pharisees, however, are we not?
Denver recently overturned a law banning the ownership of Pit Bulls, yet Colorado is still wrangling over partial birth abortion! This is just one state that comes to mind on the issues involving the dismembering and suffering of the most innocent of human beings.
When people are more angered and defensive for their right to own a certain breed of dog than they are about the tragedy of abortion, where are we headed as a civilization? Are we even civil at all or are we becoming barbaric?
There are many questions we need to be asking ourselves.
I had an interesting discussion with a student recently regarding animals and humans.
I asked the student a question: “When you are driving down the highway and see road kill, what do you do?”
The student replied “I keep driving.”
“O.K.”, I replied. “What if you were driving down the highway and saw a mangled, dead person on the side of the road.”
We both agreed that they, I and almost anyone would stop, call the police and probably be traumatized for years to come.
Why is that? Because human life is of great value and is created in the image of God.
Genesis 1:26, 27:
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.”
We were created to reflect a loving, caring and compassionate God. We have the privilege to care for animals and especially our fellow human beings who are created in His image.
May we not forget that the Sabbath is a day for rest unless someone needs help.
May we also take note that it wasn’t animals who were created in God’s image but rather man and to care more about them than human life would be a tragic misplacement of priorities.
Jesus had this amazing way of getting these priorities right. Every….single….time…