Thursday, June 2, 2016

For God so loved gorillas...

I had the joy and privilege of  preaching this past Sunday at our church. Continuing our current series, I spoke on prayer. The message, in three points, was what prayer changes in us:  Our focus, our thought patterns, and finally our heart. The last, of course, is the most important. The big idea is that the more time we spend with God in prayer, the more we find ourselves caring about the things that God cares about.

The natural question, then, is what does God care about?

This Sunday's sermon was before the gates of Sheol were opened and the social media storm on the event that took place at the Cincinnati Zoo flooded our news feeds. There has been no shortage of opinions being shouted from enough soap boxes to make Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton both look clean (ok, that may be an exaggeration - there's probably not enough soap on the whole of the earth for that). Who'd have thought that a zoo's decision to kill a gorilla in order to save a child would have caused such a backlash, even to the point of death threats against the saved child's parents? Welcome to 2016.

Anyway, I bring up all of this because the Christian response should mirror God's response. It all ties right back to the question above:  What does God care about?

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16

"God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15)

God's heart is that of a loving father. It's true that God cares about animals. He cares about our pet cat, Olive. He cared about Harambe the gorilla. And so should we. But more so, God cares about people. He cares about you, me, and the young boy who's life was at risk. Jesus didn't die to save gorillas; he died to save people. So while there's nothing necessarily wrong with mourning the death of an animal, there is definitely something wrong when we mourn the death of an animal more than we rejoice in the life of a child. That should tell us something of the condition of our hearts.

Here's the problem in a nutshell:

  • This past week, 700 refugees drowned off the coast of Greece.
  • This past week, 9,000 babies were aborted in the US alone.
  • This past week, 68 people were shot in Chicago.
  • This past week, 1 gorilla's death has dominated our attention.

We need to care about people the way God cares about people.

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