by Tad Lindley
If you did not read last week’s column, please do so in preparation for this week’s column. For those of you who have been so patiently waiting all week to see how it finishes, here it is.
Jesus loved the beetles. Not the Beatles, as in John Lennon, but the real beetles, as in the lady bug. The famous biologist, Communist, and atheist, J.B.S. Haldane is reported to have said, “The creator, if He exists, must have an inordinate fondness for beetles.” Haldane was referring to the fact that there are over 360,000 known species of beetles on the planet. For comparison, there are fewer than 6,000 species of mammals. And while humans come in various shapes, colors, and sizes, there is only one species of human.
You thought you were big just because you’re a human
We are used to thinking of ourselves as being the greatest thing on the face of planet earth. After all, we appear to ourselves to rule the world. We have unlocked the secrets of physics and biology. Man has made mechanical hearts, and mastered surgical techniques. We can track a criminal with satellite technology and send text messages from fish camp to a person half way around the world. Surely humans are the greatest thing since the beginning. The Christian can easily find themselves thinking that we are the apex of God’s creation; the evolutionist, that humans are the pinnacle of natural selection.
Really we aren’t that special
True, humans can live to be over 120 years old, but a quahog clam from Iceland was aged at 405 years old. Any ungulate (moose, caribou, musk ox, etc.) can survive for years on food we would cause us to starve to death within weeks. We would die after four days without water, but a kangaroo rat can go for its entire life drinking very little water, because its kidney is so much more efficient than ours. Every bird on the planet has a more efficient set of lungs than humans. Humans can last a few hours at the most in ice water, and yet seals and walrus live their entire lives under such conditions. The arctic tern flies from the Antarctic to the Arctic and back every year, and a lot of us cannot even get from our house to church on Sunday morning. As great as we think we are, there is really nothing in our physical make-up that is any better than the rest of the animal kingdom.
The one thing that sets us apart
Jesus made everything: All things were made by him, and without him was nothing made that was made (John 1:3). He was in the world, and the world was made by him, but the world knew him not (1:10). On day six, he made the beetles along with all the other insects and the other land animals. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so (Genesis 1:24). If God’s love were to be measured in the number of species of each type of animal he created, the beetles would have won. He made 360,000 or more. But that is not the measure of God’s love.
The measure of God’s love is that he chose to make man in his own image. And God said [presumably to the angels, since when angels appear to men they appear as men], Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth (Genesis 1:26). The truth of this is borne out in the fact that when God came manifest in the flesh, he did not come as a lady bug. It was not a kangaroo rat that was nailed to the cross of Calvary. Jesus became a man, not a musk ox. He came not to save the whales, but to seek and save lost humanity. The one thing that sets us apart from other life, is that Jesus came and dwelt among us robed in flesh, and that he let himself be humiliated, beaten, and crucified that we might be free from sin.
Jesus must have loved all of his creation, but even more than the beetles, Jesus loves you. The proof is found in his own words. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.