Neither have I.
Nor have I been able to solve problems of drought or disease. Or tame a wild, raging hippopotamus.
Nor – unless you are a scientist and have made an important discovery in the past few weeks – have you.
But should we?
There is a Psalm in the Old Testament (number 8) that talks about the amazing privilege of being human. You have David, perhaps reflecting on a starry night with the flocks, wondering why God should confer such an exalted status on human beings. Why should he bother to think of us? Yet he has given us this special status, just a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour, and all things are under our feet.
Including the beasts of the field.
That ought to include hippos.
But I dare say that if a hippo charged in your direction, you’d be looking to escape rather than attempting to take dominion.
There is some biblical background.
Genesis 1 makes the extraordinary claim that human beings, men and women, have been made in the image of God. There is something of him in us. That’s our dignity and it sets us apart from the rest of what God has made. A galaxy may reflect God’s glory, but does not bear God’s image.
God’s image-bearers were meant to be representatives of God’s rule over his creation. That’s what God said in the beginning. And that’s how David talks in Psalm 8.
But what will we do with that hippo?
A little further on in Genesis (chapter 3) we discover something about our disgrace. Yes, there is the dignity of being image-bearers, but chapter 3 is a story of rebellion. It’s a story of people who were already like God (made in his likeness) wanting to be like him on their own terms.
Their rebellion had a spiritual, a relational and a physical impact, resulting in alienation from God, from each other, and from the creation, and paving the way for pain and decay and a created order that is ready to fight us.
is that why we aren’t so good with hippos?
But that’s not all.
It’s interesting that the anonymous writer of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 8. Hebrews 2 acknowledges that ‘we do not yet see everything in subjection….’
So the weeds and the thorns, and the storms and the pain are not just our imagination playing tricks with us. Things are not (yet) as they should be.
Hebrews 2 goes on:
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus….
Despite humanity’s attempts to cut themselves loose from God, and despite the ensuing mess, God has not stood back, leaving us to fix it by ourselves.
We see Jesus…
Who, says Hebrews, has become one of us.
There is a Redeemer.
Who walked on water and rebuked the storms.