Yes Your Dog Goes to Heaven
There was a time when the wages of sin was death, and the price for a sinner’s life was the life of a dove, goat or ox. How precious the life of such animals must have been to God, that their blood could erase the curse of even one sin.
Today, humans have minimized sin to the point where animals are assumed to have no more value than a steak or a well made leather belt. It is a shame. When the sickness of sin is regarded as a minor annoyance, the cost of repentance is regarded as a ho-hum inconvenience.
Now the price of sin requires little from the sinner, except a quick reminder to God that the shed blood of Jesus needs to, once again, be applied to yet another offense.
“There’s plenty more,” the modern believer often reminds himself, “where that came from.”
Can it be that the cost to God and man is so little? Is the death of Christ ancient history, a horrible event we read about from afar, like the death camps in Germany? Is sin so mild that it can be instantly repaired with spiritual super glue? Is our victory over death and sin 2,000 years ago no more meaningful in our everyday lives than our historic victory over the Nazis in World War Two?
The cynicism of modern society, which has stripped beauty and wonder from almost everything, has invaded the church. In our quest for knowledge and control, we have lost real truth. This is not only true of science, but of theology. We act as if conducting an autopsy could somehow reveal the life within a body, as if our dissection of every word of God will allow us to reach the eternal life that is in those words.
Somehow, we imagine if we reduce every bit of our humanity, each and every act of God, to its smallest components and place it under a microscope, we will strip away it’s mystery and find righteousness, peace and joy. One cannot hope to extract the joy and beauty of a park by bringing in bulldozers and chainsaws in order to get to the bottom of the matter.
Without the magic and poetry of life, we can never hope to understand the structure that lies beneath its surface. The knowledge we gain from our doubt-filled inquiries can turn beauty into ash. Like alchemists transforming gold into lead, we have created a grotesque inversion. We have exchanged courtesy for intimacy, geniality for passion and civility for righteousness. As CS Lewis wrote, the result is a culture where Jack, the Giant Killer, garners less attention than Giant, the Jack Killer. Our hearts have become callused to the gentleness and kindness of God. We no longer recognize, appreciate or value life itself.
One of the casualties from this excavation of wonder is a numbness to the miraculous beauty and complexity of the world around us. Many Christians have no regard for the lives of animals, reduced to fodder for our own use. Little thought is given to their purpose and value to Yahweh. Believers are all too often horrified by the thought a family pet might live forever in heaven. It is almost as if the importance of man is cheapened by assigning true value to the lives of animals. The opposite is, indeed, the case.
The scriptures speak about animals in ways that tell us what God values. Yet man’s cruelty and coldness stands in stark contrast to God’s incredible intimacy with nature and the animals He filled it with.
There are two scriptures which promise man a long life. One is to recognize the dignity of the Fatherhood of God by honoring your parents. The other is to shoo away a mother bird before gathering her young. Recognizing the feelings of a simple bird has powerful repercussions in a man’s life. By honoring the parenthood God has built into nature we receive the promise of a long life.
We are never to boil a kid in its mother’s milk because motherhood is sacred to the LORD. It is not to be mocked for our own benefit. The honor, joy and heart of God is embedded within His creation and just as we are to treat our parent’s stuff with respect and dignity, we must do no less with Yahweh’s possessions.
Even though we often feel alone, unable to discern the LORD’s invisible footsteps, we are comforted by the knowledge that not even a solitary sparrow dies without the Father. He keeps His eye on every single animal on earth and is with them at death. Indeed, He has created each one of them by giving them His life, creating them to live forever, free from sin and death. In the face of the LORD’s judgement, God’s covenant through Noah was not made with man alone, but with the animals of this world. It is a two way bond, given with compassion and love to animals and man alike. It is also received, with understanding, by both.
But now each creature shares the consequence of Adam’s sin. Snared by the curse man has brought upon God’s earth, the animals groan for freedom, agonizing for the coming of the fullness of mankind’s salvation so they, themselves, may be free once again; so they may taste of the unbounded life Yahweh destined for them. They were created to be man’ companions, not man’s food and clothing. Their hope in the work of Christ is not ill placed.
It is the LORD who hunts the lion’s prey and fills the young lions with food. God has not abandoned His people nor His earth. He comforts the mountains of Israel with the promise that He will return the Jewish people to the land and settle them once again in peace and righteousness.
Even the rocks of the earth and the trees of the field rejoice at the presence of God. The whirlwind does his bidding and the waves of the sea obey Him. All He created was to live with Him eternally. It is impossible that it would be otherwise, for Messiah, Himself, is the life of God and has declared He has conquered death and will reign forever, in earth, with His creation. Of course your dog will be there. Where else could he be?