My love for animals, though, does not stop with the family pet. I have come to be very fond of the humblest of creatures, the birds. I love their multitude of colors, songs, living habits, even attitudes, etc. We have a small feeder in back of our house that is always ready with suet, seed cakes, and a seed mix that appeals to the broadest variety of birds. I have not gone so far as to catalogue them, but I certainly would not criticize others for doing so, because I fully understand how you can become so enthused with these beautiful creatures. The hobby of bird-watching was recently highlighted in a hit movie The Big Year, in which the characters competed with each other to see the greatest number of birds possible in a single year. I came by my love of animals early in my life. My family always seemed to have a dog or a cat around when I was growing up. For a child, having a pet is almost a necessary rite of passage, teaching them how to care for these humble creatures, and giving them a friend who will always be there.
School events even encouraged this love of animals. I remember going on a school field trip in junior high to watch a movie at the local theater. The film was “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” released in 1972. Our wise teachers decided that we would all benefit from this unusual, morality tale. It was directed by the Italian great Franco Zeffirelli and was based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi. In the film, Francis is a spoiled rich young man who has a religious experience that I assume was salvation. After this encounter with God, he changed dramatically, rejecting all material wealth and learning to live his life entirely by love. One of the objects of his love was the animals he encountered. This is one of the things that, historically, Francis was known for, which is why he is now called as the patron saint of animals. Animals have certainly made our world a little brighter and more interesting. They are one of the wonderful gifts that God has blessed this earth with to make life enjoyable.
But while God wants us to enjoy these creatures, we are reminded in scripture not to make them the object of our spiritual worship. In Romans 1, we are told that doing so would be exchanging the truth of God for a lie. But this is exactly where some religions have taken man, to the worship of nature and the things in nature rather than worshiping the powerful, amazing God that made all these things. Doing this is an insult to the God who deserves our worship and praise for all the wonderful gifts that He has put into nature. Moreover, even if it was not an insult to God, it is a dead end, a futile act to worship nature. There is no power in nature to help us, and nature has no soul that we can interact with on a spiritual level. Only God can help us and truly interact with us in a real relationship.
I pray that you will all experience a wonderful and fulfilling relationship with our Creator through His Son Jesus, and that you will be blessed with the enjoyment of the many animals that He created for our comfort, pleasure, and help in our daily work.