Last summer I was mowing one of our fields when all of a sudden I was punched right in the muscle. Twice. At least that’s what it felt like! I looked around and I was in the middle of a cloud of Yellowjackets.
I drove away from that spot as fast as I could and I had painful welts on my arm for days afterwards.
Wasps are no fun at all. Kids, how many of you have been stung by a bee or a wasp before? Keep your hands up if you enjoyed it. I didn’t think so!
Well today we’re going to talk about wasps. Specifically, the question: why did God create them?
They’re mean, they’re painful… Wouldn’t the world be better if they didn’t exist?
This is the last week of Summer Fest, answering big questions kids at Grace have about God, the Bible, and our world.
And although the question about why God created wasps may seem like kind of an oddly specific one to end on, I think it opens the door to some much bigger truths about how we understand the brokenness of our world.
So let’s get into it. Why did God create wasps?
Well, there are basically two answers to this question: one biological and one theological.
I’ll start with the biological.
Yes, wasps have a reputation for being jerks, but most of them actually play an important part in a healthy ecosystem.
Pollination, pest control, decomposers, food sources for other animals like birds.
In a way, wasps are kind of like sharks or snakes - animals that are kind of scary and sometimes dangerous to us but play an important role in nature.
So that’s the biological answer. They do have a role to play and that’s why God created them.
But why do they have to sting us? Why can’t they just do their own thing?
Well, here’s where we turn to the authors of the Bible for a more theological answer. Because they can help us understand how and why this world - including our relationship with wasps - is broken.
BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY
Let me show you what I mean.
In the first creation account of Genesis, right after God creates humanity, he gives us a job to do.
Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
Humans were given the job to reign - to rule. We were designed in God’s image to be caretakers of his good creation. He’s the king, and we are the princes and princesses. He gave us power and authority so we could help his creation thrive. That’s what we’re here to do.
And in the story at first this is goes well - Adam names all the animals. He gives them identities and purpose. There’s a harmonious relationship between humanity and creation. There’s no death. There’s no pain.
In fact, there are clues in the text that everyone in Eden (including lions and sharks and people) were vegetarian. Nobody hurt anybody.
But then things fall apart. Humans bring a curse into the world by rebelling against God's intentions. We don’t have time to get into it too deeply now, but that curse spreads not just to other humans, but into the very fabric of creation itself.
Death enters our world. People kill people. People kill animals. Animals kill animals. Animals kill people. Suddenly this good creation of God is filled with violence.
And in fact, after Noah’s flood, God repeats the blessing he gave to Adam and Eve. But there’s one major difference this time around. See if you can spot it:
Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth. All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror. I have placed them in your power."
We are still given the responsibility to rule over creation, but now God acknowledges that things have fundamentally changed between us and his creation.
The ground we are supposed to eat from now produces thorns and thistles. The animals we are meant to care for live in terror of us. There’s violence, there’s death, in both directions.
And this is the world we live in today. Our world is broken. People hurt one another. And in the biblical imagination, this is why wasps sting, because the creatures we were meant to watch over now see us as their enemies. They’re afraid of us.
Now that could be a bit discouraging. But here’s the good news. Because we follow Jesus, we know this brokenness is not the end of the story.
We have hope of a New Creation. God is going to re-make this world - we will return to Eden so to speak - and things will go back to the way they were meant to be, including our relationship with God’s creatures.
There are several key passage in the Bible that imagine what that will be like. For example,
In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
the leopard will lie down with the baby goat…
The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
And I might add, wasps will never sting.
This is a picture of humanity returning to our original job as caretakers of Creation and we will do it the way God intended. Spreading life and abundance, not death and violence. And the creatures of the earth will respond in kind.
In the New Creation our relationship with the earth and its creatures (including wasps!) will be healed.
Now, all of this may seem like a long-winded response to a pretty simple question, but I think it helps us consider a much bigger reality: that this still broken world has a destiny to be healed.
But here’s the coolest thing: That healing has already begun. Thanks to Jesus we get to be a part of the transformation of our world - even now…
We get to join Jesus in the work of New Creation – in helping to return this broken world to Eden.
We can spread life and peace where others spread death and violence.
For example, some people are really mean - bullies. Kids, I’m sure you guys know what bullies are like at school - people like wasps that just want to sting you with their words.
But thanks to Jesus we can choose to love them, to turn the other cheek, to be kind even when they’re mean. And when we do, we introduce them to the love of Jesus and show them that there is another way to live.
Now, we’re probably not going to have a lot of success loving and caring for literal wasps until the New Creation comes – they’re still going to live in fear of us.
But when it comes to our posture toward this world, our lives can point the way to what’s coming.
When we see pain and death, we can spread hope because we know that this broken world is not the end. God's New Creation is coming, and Jesus made sure that we who follow him get to be a part of it both now and forever.