Over the years biologists have come up with various names to identify groups of animals. Alligators form a congregation, beavers a colony, birds a flock, frogs an army, gorillas a band, lions a pride, monkeys a troop, sea otters (like those above) a raft, owls a parliament, sharks a school, whales a pod, and wolves a pack. Human groups go by different names: crowd, community, gang, mob, tribe, etc. But what if we wanted to come up with a group name for all creatures, what would it be? I’d like to suggest family.
Obviously there are many things that are distinctive for each animal group but there is also much that they all have in common, especially theologically. For starters, we all owe our existence to God. Every creature, including man, can say with the Psalmist “It is He who has made us and not we ourselves.” (Ps. 100:3) Second, God has declared all of His creatures to be good. Following the fifth and sixth days of creation (the days all creatures were made) we are told “God saw that it was good.” Third, we have all been “blessed” by God. This, too, has been made clear in Genesis 1 (see v. 22 and 28).
There are still other things all creatures have in common. Fourth, we have each been given the ability to reproduce and perpetuate our species. For all of His creatures God said “Be fruitful and multiply” (once again see v. 22 and 28). Fifth, we are all mortal. No creature can live forever. Finally, we all look forward to Creation’s fulfillment in the age to come. This is the apostle Paul’s teaching in Romans 8. He writes, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (vs. 19-21)
There truly is much that all God’s creatures, including man, share in common. That being so, wouldn’t it help if we began to look at all creatures as family? I cannot help but believe that is precisely what God intended “in the beginning.”