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Sermon Illustrations on animals

Background

God’s Menagerie of Beautiful Creatures

We were in London watching the musical The Lion King. Surely you’ve seen the movie; the opening number is worth watching again this week to help your imagination seize the new earth with both hands. As the sun rises on the African savannah and flocks of birds soar overhead, God’s menagerie of fantastic creatures assembles to honor their new prince.

The scene is borrowed straight from Genesis, the morning of creation, when all the angels sang for joy. It is a moment when music is required, fitting hand in glove with creation (you’ll remember Aslan sang Narnia into being). The opening song begins, heralding the moment of our birth and how each one of us steps blinking into a dazzling world filled with more than can possibly be seen or done in a lifetime.          

John Eldredge, All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything You Love, Thomas Nelson, 2018.

Stories

The Christian Bear

A man decided to skip church one Sunday and head to the hills to do some bear hunting. As he rounded the corner on a perilous twist in the trail, he and a bear collided, sending him and his rifle tumbling down the mountainside. Luckily for him, he was able to grab his rifle, with just one shot to save himself and take out the bear.

The gunshot went off and unfortunately, it was a miss.

Now the bear was charging after him and there was no time to reload.

“Oh, Lord,” the man prayed, “I’m so sorry for skipping church today to come out here and hunt. Please forgive me and grant me just one wish . . . Please make a Christian out of that bear that’s coming at me. Please, Lord!” That very instant, the bear skidded to a halt, fell to its knees, clasped its paws together and began to pray aloud right at the man’s feet. “Dear God” the bear said, “Bless this food I am about to receive.”

Source Unknown

My Keeper’s Brother?

One day the zookeeper noticed that the Orangutan was reading two books – the Bible and Darwin’s Origin of Species.

In surprise he asked the ape, “Why are you reading both those books”?

“Well,” said the Orangutan, “I just wanted to know if I was my brother’s keeper or my keeper’s brother.”

Source Unknown

Analogies

Re-Wilding and Restoring Balance to Nature

In 1995, the gray wolf was reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park after a seventy-year hiatus. Scientists expected an ecological ripple effect, but the size and scope of the trophic cascade took them by surprise.

Wolves are predators that kill certain species of animals. But they indirectly give life to others. When the wolves reentered the ecological equation, it radically changed the behavioral patterns of other wildlife. As the wolves began killing coyotes, the rabbit and mouse populations increased. Thereby attracting more hawks, weasels, foxes, and badgers. In the absence of predators, deer had overpopulated the park and overgrazed parts of Yellowstone. Their new traffic patterns, however, allowed the flora and fauna to regenerate. The berries on those regenerated shrubs caused a spike in the bear population.

In six years’ time, the trees in overgrazed parts of the park had quintupled in height. Bare valleys were reforested aspen, willow, and cottonwood trees. And as soon as that happened, songbirds started nesting in the trees. Then beavers started chewing them down. Beavers are ecosystem engineers, building dams that create natural habitats for otters, muskrats, and ducks, as well as fish,’ reptiles, and amphibians.

One last ripple effect.

The wolves even changed the behavior of rivers—they meandered less because of less soil erosion. The channels narrowed and pools formed as the regenerated forests stabilized the riverbanks.

My point? We need wolves!

When you take the wolf out of the equation, there are unintended consequences. In the absence of danger, a sheep remains a sheep. And the same is true of men. The way we play the man is by overcoming overwhelming obstacles, by meeting daunting challenges. We may fear the wolf, but we also crave it. It’s what we want. It’s what we need.

Picture a cage fight between a sheep and a wolf. The sheep doesn’t stand a chance, right?

Unless there is a Shepherd.

And I wonder if that’s why we play it safe instead of playing the man—we don’t trust the Shepherd.

…Ecologists recently coined a wonderful new word. Invented in 2011, rewilding has a multiplicity of meanings. It’s resisting the urge to control nature. It’s the restoration of wilderness. It’s the reintroduction of animals back into their natural habitat. It’s an ecological term, but rewilding has spiritual implications.

As I look at the Gospels, rewilding seems to be a subplot. The Pharisees were so civilized—too civilized. Their religion was nothing more than a stage play. They were wolves in sheep’s clothing. But Jesus taught a very different brand of spirituality.

Foxes have dens and birds have nests,” said Jesus, “but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” So Jesus spent the better part of three years camping, fishing, and hiking with His disciples. It seems to me Jesus was rewilding them.

Mark Batterson, Play the Man: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be, Baker Books, 2017.

Humor

The Christian Bear

A man decided to skip church one Sunday and head to the hills to do some bear hunting. As he rounded the corner on a perilous twist in the trail, he and a bear collided, sending him and his rifle tumbling down the mountainside. Luckily for him, he was able to grab his rifle, with just one shot to save himself and take out the bear.

The gunshot went off and unfortunately, it was a miss.

Now the bear was charging after him and there was no time to reload.

“Oh, Lord,” the man prayed, “I’m so sorry for skipping church today to come out here and hunt. Please forgive me and grant me just one wish . . . Please make a Christian out of that bear that’s coming at me. Please, Lord!” That very instant, the bear skidded to a halt, fell to its knees, clasped its paws together and began to pray aloud right at the man’s feet. “Dear God” the bear said, “Bless this food I am about to receive.”

Source Unknown

My Keeper’s Brother?

One day the zookeeper noticed that the Orangutan was reading two books – the Bible and Darwin’s Origin of Species.

In surprise he asked the ape, “Why are you reading both those books”?

“Well,” said the Orangutan, “I just wanted to know if I was my brother’s keeper or my keeper’s brother.”

Source Unknown

Who is God?

A dog looks at you and thinks, “You feed me, you pet me, you give me shelter, and you love me.  You must be God.”  A cat looks at you and thinks, “You feed me, you pet me, you give me shelter, and you love me.  I must be God.

Source Unknown

More Resources

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Related Themes

Click a topic below to explore more sermon illustrations! 

Beauty

 Creation

Creation Care/The Environment

Gardening/Farming

 Nature

 Soil

& Many More