Thoughts from the Pastor


All Dogs go to Heaven – or so I hope

 

“A righteous person cares for the needs of their animal”- Proverbs 12:10

     Our family this summer had to put to sleep our eldest cat as it became clear that she was in her final days. She was suffering greatly but even as the decision to ease her suffering was clear it did not make the process easy. Many tears were shed as we mourned the loss of a beloved part of our family. We develop deep bonds with our pets for in them we find a glimpse of unconditional love. Pets bring us companionship, joy, and at times purpose. Not everyone is a “pet” person but for those that have pets a somewhat common question I get as Pastor is, “do pets go to heaven?”

     When it comes to matters of eternal life the most honest and true answer any Pastor can give is “I don’t know.” Yet, I can share my hope and what I believe based in scripture. It is true that God has given humanity a unique role within creation. We are the only part of God’s creation said to be made “in God’s image” and we are indeed entrusted to care for creation in Genesis. However, being given a unique and special place in creation is not the same as saying we are all that matters to God.

     Psalm 147:9 tells us that God is concerned for all of creation, including the animals: “God provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.” In Psalm 104:21, we see that “the lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God.” In the Gospel of Luke Jesus says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” Therefore, God is not only the creator but the sustainer for all of creation. More than that the God who knows us personally and intimately is said to know all of creation in this same way.

     If we then have been created in the image of God and are called to have the same concerns of our God, then it should be no surprise that we can become so attached to animals. For in caring for animals we are sharing and delighting in the creative power of our God. For indeed our God cares for and knows all of creation. This is why issues like climate change, pollution, and caring for endangered species are a matter of faith for me. We must not become so focused on eternal life that we forget God’s promise of salvation is for a new heaven and a new earth. The bringing forth of a new kingdom is not just about how we treat one another; it is a hope meant for all of creation.

     God’s salvation is for all of creation, so much so that when the Pharisees ordered Jesus to quiet down the disciples Jesus proclaimed, “if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40). Paul in his letter to the Romans likewise understood that salvation is for all creation as he said that “creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Even in the Lord’s prayer we are taught to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

     So, do our pets go to heaven? I don’t know. But I trust that God cares deeply for all of creation and knows all of creation in an intimate way. Who is to say what the eternal promise looks like but I for one believe that God’s promise of salvation extends beyond humanity. So I hope to be reunited with beloved pets in life eternal and think the church needs to do a better job of acknowledging the real grief that results from losing a pet. Still, an equally important concern of ours should be caring for creation around us, here and now. God cares deeply for this world, how we treat creation around us can be an act of worship.


                           ~ Pastor Nathan