This morning I spent time looking through old photos and came across my cat Buddy’s baby pictures. He was apparently lost when his mother and her kittens passed through the area. Lydia and I could hear him outside the parsonage at night, starving and crying in search of his mom. He was so scared we couldn’t get near him. When we finally were able to feed him--he was terribly skinny. In one photo, he’s sitting in Lydia’s lap with her arms cradling him, and he’s looking up at her face. He was so tiny and vulnerable--protected in her arms. What I see in the picture is his awesome dependency upon a higher power. And I see trust and love.
Some people consider pets to be objects to own. Buddy is not my property. He is my responsibility and my joy. I take seriously God’s command to care for God’s creation. On the sixth day of creation, God blessed Adam and Eve saying,
"Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Genesis 1:28)
Some take this passage to mean we lord over creation, dominating it--treating it any way we choose. That is a misinterpretation. The text isn’t a license to abuse, neglect, or wantonly destroy. The Bible is clear that God wants us to love as he loves--each other and all of creation. In Genesis he gave us a responsibility to care for this great gift--to protect and nurture it. When we do it right, it looks like Lydia holding Buddy in that photo.
To love as God loves takes a total reimagining of our place in the world. We are the crown of creation. That doesn’t mean we’re more important--we just have a special job to do. God gave us the ability to understand the interdependency of all living things. And we understand that God holds us all in his care. That photo of Buddy is a reminder that we too are dependent upon a higher power. When God looks down upon us, he wants to see our eyes looking up adoringly at him with trust and love--knowing our place in the world.