I’ve been driving past the same billboard on Gandy for about two months now, and every time I pass it, I’m struck by just how bizarre it is. The only text on the billboard is the name of a nearby gym, and the strange part to me is the picture. Reclining seductively against a totally white backdrop is a woman dressed as a cheetah. Through some combination of a spotted bodysuit, body paint, and facial prosthetics, it looks as though she has become some sort of cat-like superhuman hybrid. Her lean physique and cheetah features are probably meant to suggest that the training at the gym could grant its users cat-like speed and reflexes, but since there’s no text to explain the mindboggling picture, that’s just my guess.
The billboard always makes me scratch my head because I feel like it shows a simultaneous respect and misunderstanding of God’s creation, and since our youth recently spent some time in the first three chapters of Genesis, God’s creation has been on my mind a lot lately.
Throughout Genesis 1, there is a constant refrain: “And God saw that it was good.” In fact, this sentence appears seven times in only 31 verses, so you know it’s a really big deal:
Genesis 1:4- God creates light and sees that it is good.
Genesis 1:10- God divides land and sea and sees that they are good.
Genesis 1:12- God creates plants and sees that they are good.
Genesis 1:18- God creates the sun, moon, and stars and sees that they are good.
Genesis 1:21- God creates birds and fish and sees that they are good.
Genesis 1:25- God creates land-dwelling animals and sees that they are good.
Genesis 1:31- God looks at all creation and sees that it is very good.
Throughout this chapter, we see God creating, organizing, and grouping animals. We see God establishing order. We see God entrusting responsibility to some of the animals (particularly those funny two-legged ones). We see God even bestowing His image on humanity, setting us aside as something special and different from the rest of the created order. And God looks at all of this and tells us very clearly that it is good.
And so, we’re back to the cheetah lady.
The billboard certainly reflects an awe of one of God’s creatures: the cheetah, with its speed and elegance. At the same time, what does the billboard say about humans? Are our attributes really so inferior to the rest of creation? Should we really aspire to be like the animals instead? Is there something to be gained from trying to imitate a portion of God’s creation over which the Bible plainly says we are stewards? Should we envy the cheetah’s physical attributes and seek to replicate them for ourselves, forsaking our responsibilities in the process?
No. There is an order to creation, and if Genesis 1 tells us anything, it’s that God has a special intention for humanity. We have a bigger calling than painting ourselves with spots and running at high speeds through the veldt. As Genesis 1:26-31 explains, our calling is this:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Let’s delight in this responsibility and take care of this world (ourselves included). These things are God’s, and they are good. We don’t need to envy the animals or seek to be like them. In fact, quite the opposite: God has entrusted their care to us. So enjoy your place in this creation, take delight in the things God has made, and above all else, remember that it is God who set these spheres in motion and continues to guide their path.
Grace & Peace,