Is feeding the poor more noble than feeding stray dogs? Well, of course. Dogs were NOT created in the image of God, which automatically elevates people over pooches. Nevertheless, dogs were created by God, which dignifies their care and feeding.
I know, animal rights has got a bad rap amongst Christians, what with the PETA folks practically deifying non-humans. But since when does believing humans are superior mean seeing animals as inconsequential? In fact, our humanity is partly displayed in an ethical treatment of animals.
Contrary to what is commonly believed, the Bible has a lot to say about the “worth” of animals and how we should treat them. For instance, Adam’s first big job was naming all of them (Gen. 2:20), and Noah’s first big job was saving a bunch of them. Exodus 21-22:14 and Deuteronomy 25 outline the ways a righteous man should handle livestock. Isaiah 65 speaks of the lamb lying down with the lion, imagery that appears both literal and figurative. Jesus talked about “the birds of the air” saying that God provides for them (Matt. 6:26), and used the winged creatures to emphasize human worth, saying that one sparrow cannot fall to the ground without the Father’s knowledge (Matt. 10:29). Jesus went on to describe Himself as a Shepherd who tends lovingly to His flock (Jn. 10). And there’s more. But my favorite “animal lover” verse is Proverbs 12:10:
A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. (NIV emphasis mine)
And you thought righteousness was just about not cussing. Maybe I shouldn’t feel so weird about being an animal lover, huh?
So our church is involved a unique ministry opportunity called ServeDay. It’s a partnership between local churches “to engage in their community in ways that clearly demonstrate the power of God’s love through meeting real needs.” There are numerous ministry opportunities that involve homeless shelters, Mexico missions and community restoration projects. The one that caught my eye? Serving in the local animal shelter.
Which leads me to ask: Am I serving God by serving dog?