For over 30 years, we’ve heard the call to save the spotted owl. And while we’re at it, let’s save a few dolphins, whales, and the snail darter. Logging in the Pacific Northwest has jeopardized the homes of spotted owls. (Apparently, this does not affect dolphins.) At the risk of sounding callous about homeless spotted owls, I figure God has hard-wired these birds to see the solution.
Fly to another forest.
Please don’t write me off as an animal hater. Quite the opposite. I want to bring home every dog I see. But even without human involvement, fires destroy bird homes … and they find new ones. Storms wipe out and kill. Animals eat other animals. Nature can be a cruel environment.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care. We don’t have to coddle nature—as some environmentalists would have us do—but we should never abuse it. I am especially incensed by animal cruelty: animals neglected, starved, mistreated, and treated as if their lives don’t matter at all.
William Wilberforce was someone else incensed by cruelty to animals. In 1780, Wilberforce was 21—and a member of the British Parliament. He advocated for the welfare of animals and was one of the founders of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Why? Wilberforce was motivated by his compassion and commitment to Jesus Christ.
As much as Wilberforce cared for the animals around him, he cared far more for people. Thanks to the struggles and efforts of Wilberforce, the British slave trade was abolished in 1807. He fought this battle for 20 years—and after it passed, he continued to fight for the emancipation of slaves in the British colonies.
William Wilberforce is a great example of what it means to care for the planet and animal life without losing sight of the greater need: the care for human beings. Every human being.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
I want to help people see that they are made in the image of God—and that includes the most “insignificant” among us.” And that image can be fully restored through the love, grace, and salvation that is found in Jesus Christ.
This post supports the study “Cherished in God’s Eyes” in Bible Studies for Life.