Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Two scantily clad women with wild hair were pictured some time ago peering out from behind boulders with the bold, black caption underneath reading, Caged Animals . They and a number of others had been chosen to participate in an exhibit at the London Zoo depicting “primitive” men and women – alongside other primates – as just one more animal in Earth’s menagerie.
The exhibit prompted giggles, stares and questions such as “Why are there people in there?” To which Polly Wills, spokeswoman for the zoo responded by saying, “Seeing people in a different environment, among other animals… teaches members of the public that the human is just another primate,…” Chemist Tom Mahoney, who participated as one of the three male examples of homo sapiens in the exhibit concurred saying, “A lot of people think humans are above other animals. When they see humans as animals, here, it kind of reminds us that we’re not that special.”
That is a central principle of evolution and representative of its threat to us as people. If we are indeed nothing more than animals, how can we be held accountable for what we do? Some use this argument to intentionally lower expectations of human behavior, excusing their lack of ethics and morals. And yet a driving force in man’s quest to identify his purpose in life has been to question who or what he is and how he is different from other creatures. Scripture addresses these issues beginning in Genesis with God’s creation of man.
After God had prepared a place suitable for habitation, he proceeded to fill it with living things – the pinnacle of that creation being mankind; made in the image of God and given dominion over the other creatures of the earth. ( Genesis 1:26,27) Being created in His image does not mean we possess his capacity for perfection but rather that we were created with a soul, although Adam and Eve’s capabilities were undoubtedly greater at the beginning of creation than we possess now, with the ability to understand complicated issues, express ideas, respond to and with emotion – interacting with others on an individual basis as opposed to mere animal instinct. We were specifically created, “… a little lower than the heavenly beings,..” to manage the earth for and through God ( Psalm 8:5-8) and to commune with him. God didn’t have to create us, I’m not sure we can even say he needed us in the strictest sense, but he desired fellowship; someone to respond to his love and provision out of respect, appreciation and affection. In creating us with the capability of choosing how we respond he guaranteed that those who did so responded freely and intentionally. A plaintive note can almost be detected in his searching query, “Where are you?”; as he walked through the garden in the cool of the evening – evidently a regular occurrence – seeking his companions. ( Genesis 3:8. 9 )
Community has served as a driving force in the development of the human race, causing us to congregate together in families, tribes, clans, cities and countries for mutual support, protection and convenience. Evidently God craved fellowship as well. Fellowship being defined as companionship, mutual sharing, a friendly association. Would it surprise you to realize God might want those things? All other created beings do to varying degrees, but humans – being patterned after God’s character – do so especially. Every institution, likewise, thrives on fellowship for success, especially the church; which from its inception, “…devoted themselves to …fellowship…” among other things. Acts 2:42 One of the purposes of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross being to help us re-institute a right relationship – or fellowship – with God. As “God,… has called you into fellowship with his son Jesus Christ,…” 1 Corinthians 1:29
We are not merely one more animal, however more highly developed. We are special, not because of who we are or what we accomplish but because of whose we are, in consequence of our association with God. Those who choose to believe differently, “…blaspheme in matters they do not understand. (In that) They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct,…”; because they deny their master’s handiwork and rebel against his will. ( 1 Peter 2:12, Jude 10)
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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