My friend John was recently stumped by his granddaughter with this wonderful question: Why did God make germs? Being a theological biologist, this query was tossed to me. I will, then, try to answer this at a level a 5 year old can appreciate.
Does God love you? I hope you answered yes. This might be the biggest question in life and it is very important to me.
Does God love you only when you are good, or all the time? I hope you answered all the time. I think God is happy when we are good, because God loves us. I think God is sad when we are bad because God loves us. God is our friend, which is why God cares about us and what we do.
Does God love other people the same way God loves you and me? This is a harder question. As much as we try, it can be hard to love some people some of the time. It’s hard to imagine God loving people we don’t love, but Jesus asked us to love absolutely everyone absolutely all the time. God made them. God cares about them and we can, too. Jesus tried to be friends with everyone.
I think this is because God has something special in mind for each and every person. I think they will grow into something beautiful, amazing, wonderful, and awesome, just like a caterpillar grows into a butterfly. And I think every one will be just a little different so that all of them together are even more beautiful, amazing, wonderful and awesome than each one is by itself. I don’t know, but I think it’s true. I do know that Jesus asked us to love all of them.
I think this is true not just for people, but for every living thing in the world: dogs and cats and squirrels and butterflies and spiders and even cockroaches. It might be even be true for trees and flowers and grass and every growing thing. Again, I don’t know for sure, but I know that I love these things and God loves so much better than I do; I think God loves them, too. I do know that God asked us to care for them, each and every one.
Germ is an odd sort of word. It’s like enemy. Nothing is a germ by itself. To be a germ you have to be enemies with a person. Usually we call bacteria and protists and viruses germs when they are fighting humans. Bacteria and protists and viruses are tiny creatures, so small that you can’t see them. I say creatures because God made them, just like God made you and me. Most of these tiny creatures get along with humans very well. You have thousands upon thousands of them living around you all they time. They help keep your skin clean; they help you digest your food; they even help us make tasty treats like yogurt and cheese. God made tiny creatures because they can be beautiful, amazing, wonderful, and awesome.
Sometimes, though, we don’t get along with these tiny creatures and we fight them – fighting always takes two sides – and then we call them germs. They can make us really sick.
Just like human enemies, God loves our tiny enemies. God is always on our side, but God is also on our enemies’ side. God loves everyone and, I think, everything. So I pray for germs, just like I pray for my enemies. And I pray for bacteria and protists and viruses, just like I pray for dogs and cats and squirrels and trees and every living thing. And I dream of a day when we will all be beautiful and amazing and wonderful and awesome together – though it’s really had to imagine sometimes.
God made germs because God loves them and so that we might love them, too.