This morning I received a call that my friend, Joe, lost his beagle. She was well into her teen years, and died of old age. It reminded me of when I lost my cat, who had been my best friend as I grew up. I'm sure you can remember the loss of your favorite pet, or the love of your current one. Pets somehow touch a part of us that nothing and no one else can.
I'd like to think that animals go to heaven. If a burro can proclaim God's message, then who says animals can't also claim that message? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't win any theological debates on that point, but I'd still like to think it. A professor once said that heaven is different for different people. To some, heaven will be a library; to others, an orchestra hall. For me, it would be nature perfected. I don't really agree with that professor's idea of heaven (after all, who cares about books, or even nature, when we're in the presence of God??), but I also can't picture a "new heaven and new earth" without animals. Animals not because I like them, but because God created them. The fall of Man was actually the fall of creation. We see that in viruses, trees afflicted by cancer, and animals behaving as they shouldn't. Why do we think that only Man can be redeemed?
The import of that is this: If animals do indeed go to heaven, it elevates their significance. "Just another dead bird" is now flying as it never flew before. A deer is leaping for joy at meeting its Creator. We can't look at animals callously. And, really, we shouldn't whether they're in heaven or not. They're still God's creation. A pet isn't here just for our whims; a pet is for us to care for and protect. I wonder if our view of animals doesn't come from our habit of being slightly narcissistic, and believing the world revolves around us? Is it too hard to imagine that Christ came to redeem the world, and not just the people?
I'd like to know what you think. If you've been changed by a wet nose, happy bark, soft face, or contented purr, I'd be interested to know if you believe that your childhood pets are frolicking with mine. And if you have never experienced that sort of bond with an animal, your thoughts would be appreciated as well (and I think you should head to the Human Society right after posting). :)
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