"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox." - Isaiah 11:6-7
There was a recent viral video of a polar bear petting a dog as they rested on an arctic shore.
It's pretty much the sweetest thing you've seen in awhile. Combine that with the Coca-Cola ads around this time where smiling polar bears pass out bottles of soda to each other and our culture's love for dogs and you have the most heart-warming image to finish off 2016.
Except, as always, things are too good to be true. Soon after this video made the rounds, it was revealed that three polar bears were recently removed from the area where this clip was filmed because they had been killing dogs for food. Some theorized that what is seen above is the bear trying to see if the dog was ready to be eaten.
The video reveals a lot of the ideals that we espouse this time of year. Peace on earth, glad tidings for all. There is nothing more cuddly and cozy as watching two furry, beloved creatures interact in what seems to be a tender moment. By imputing human emotions and actions on these animals, we tell a narrative that reveals our deeper longings. Humans are naturally drawn to story-telling as a way to shape the world around them. So if we tell ourselves that these two different species can get along, maybe the human species can get along with the environment. And maybe people can get along with each other. World peace, glad tidings, comfort and joy. Because a polar bear and a dog can do it.
The problem is both mother nature and sinful nature aren't ideas or philosophies that we can spin and write new stories for. They're deep-rooted realities that play out in all of creation, affecting us in every which way, inescapable and unbeatable if left to our own devices. We may close our eyes and tell ourselves that things are different but our world remains the same.
The miracle of the Incarnation is that it's a real miracle. A woman was pregnant outside the laws of nature. The child was the God-man, holy, righteous, and perfect in His character, words and deeds. God, dweller of the highest heavens, would make His home among His sinful creatures, subjecting Himself to our slings and arrows so that He might win for us His peace. Rather than looking to ourselves or to the world for the hope and comfort we desire, the God of hope and comfort sent His Son Jesus to bring it to us.
It is the truth of Christmas that can make the picture of the animal kingdom in Isaiah 11 a reality. Only Christmas can point us to the unifying peace our world so desperately needs in very divided times. It is only the true story of Jesus' birth that ushers in real hope for the new reality our hearts have longed for. Let heaven and nature sing.