One of the retirement communities where we conduct services includes an interesting population of residents. Dogs, cats, birds, and even a pot-bellied pig (whom I've never met) live there, so much so that it would seem unusual to visit the place without being greeted by a meow, bird call, canine smile, or maybe even an oink (the premises, by the way, are by far the cleanest in a nursing facility we've ever seen).
I'm sure that such a circumstance is not for everybody, or every facility. It fits for Allen Memorial, however. The animals add something to the environment and atmosphere that makes things seem happier and more normal. By and large, the residents love their companions of other species, and the animals seem perfectly content. I daresay the dogs, cats, and birds (again, haven't met the pig) give every indication of recognizing they fulfill a unique and important role in the lives of those with whom they share a home.
"He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity" (Ephesians 2:14-15).
Referencing Jew and Gentile, the Apostle Paul declares the blessed truth that salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ not only draws us into loving union with the God so unlike ourselves, but also with people so unlike ourselves. We find ourselves loving and being loved by those with whom no other bond seems to exist. Nationality, ethnicity, heritage, race, culture, gender, and upbringing dissolve when two Christ-loving believers find they share the same devotion, having received the same grace. The peace of the Lord Jesus becomes the peace of His people united in Him when no other influence could form a relationship of loving fellowship and shared purpose. "We, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Romans 12:5).
I love the animals of Allen (even the cats!). They provide so much to people who have often lost so much. Moreover, they remind me of greater realities in the Christ who redeems people from earthly enmities unto a heavenly love for each other that can only be explained by the presence of the Prince of peace. A long eternity awaits us in which we will live joyfully with each other in the bond of Christ. Such glory begins in the here and now for those who realize that the Lord Jesus died to unite us not only with Himself, but with brothers and sisters spiritually born of the same Father and the same Spirit.
"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."