I think a valuable way of assessing this question is looking to Isaiah, and to symbolic ways we can live in peace rather than in violence. One suggestion might be eating a greener, more plant-based diet as a small, specific way we can practice peace today. Even as I ponder how we have not been instruments of peace, I wonder if this small act could begin, at least in part, beating our swords into plowshares.
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I find it hard to believe that the images we see in Isaiah, at creation, and in the covenant God makes between man and animal are merely analogies. Could they not be glimpses of reality as it once was, and what it will one day be again? Could my choice to eat less meat be a small act of the coming peaceable kingdom?
Have you pondered how small actions and small practices can influence much larger events? Christ encourages this way of thinking by declaring that someone who can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much. This principle can be applied in many ways, one of which I believe is that small acts have the power to influence much greater acts. Perhaps choosing something different on your plate could be a small and subtle way to influence your interaction with someone else in your life. What if choosing to practice peace at the table could begin to train our hearts toward the coming peace, when the Kingdom is finally and fully realized?
I understand that Christians differ on these issues, and even on their views of peace regarding the animal kingdom. I personally believe that the Garden was, and the coming Kingdom will be, a place without violence or death for all who have lifeblood. I believe that the images we see in Isaiah are glimpses of the large arc from creation through the fall and to final redemption.
This affects my interpretation on how the coming kingdom is played out in my day to day life. Whether it concerns the choices we make on our plates, our politics, how we relate to our family, or any number of the myriad decisions we make over the course of our lifetimes, the question is still: How can I be an instrument of peace? He lives in Davidson, NC with his wife and two young boys. This piece originally appeared at EvangelicalsforSocialAction.
Growing up in a Chinese-American home, there was always some kind of meat dish. After a pot of white rice was washed and the water had been boiled off, you put a lop-cheung in the pot for each person eating that night and covered it. After a few minutes, the rice was fully soaked in the fat of the lop-cheung and the aroma filled the house.
Then it was time to eat. It is said that Chinese eat anything with four legs except the kitchen table. Instead of lop-cheung over rice, the oxtail stew, mixed with potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery in a thick gravy, is poured over the rice. This is a big step from what I had at home. I ate with no guilt or self-consciousness. As Senior Pastor my weekly responsibilities included preparing a sermon and a Bible study. Every week, I sought to interpret the Scriptures in a way that had relevance for our congregation.
During one season my personal study led me to read Genesis 2, and I learned how in the original creation God planned for us to eat food that grew from the ground. I read Isaiah 11 and discovered how, in the future, God wants us to live peaceably with all living things, including cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys, fish, and shellfish. Every time I stood behind the pulpit I called people to be more giving knowing that they would still hold some back. I called people to be more kind knowing that they still had prejudices.
I called them to act and live as the Body of Christ knowing very well that there were still gossip, backbiting and squabbles in our church. I came to the realization and then the conviction that I am a vegetarian not by birth in a Chinese-American home, but by faith, so that I may model for the not yet and for the is to come. For me, being a vegetarian is a matter of personal and spiritual integrity. My eating decision opens discussions about other lifestyle issues. Physical exercise becomes important and essential and now occupies two time slots for playing tennis in my weekly day-timer planner.
When tennis is not possible, I substitute gardening and housework as alternative forms of physical exertion. Following recommended physical check-ups and taking vitamin supplements provide the confidence that my health is on the right track. As the result of my conviction, multiple circles of life and relationships are also affected. While my wife is not a vegetarian, when we eat at home together we both eat vegetable-based meals. We shop at markets that have more vegetarian products and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Last year I even started a small planter-box garden that has yielded heirloom tomatoes, string beans, and strawberries. Perhaps the most significant transformation of what started as my rediscovering the meaning of Scriptures and how that has affected my lifestyle is how my church has responded to my decision. Our congregation is more aware of having a vegetarian option when I come over for dinner.
They make the dish and try it for themselves and on many occasions, they even like it. When I was first called into Christian ministry way back in , I never thought that I would not be eating anything with four legs except the kitchen table. But what I do know now is that God has called me to be faithful, both when I stand behind the pulpit and when I pick up a fork. Whenever Don finds some extra time from his ministry, he is usually spending it with his grandkids.
Imagine What Heaven Will Be Like: 5 Activities to Teach Kids about Heaven - FaithGateway
This article originally appeared in the Summer edition of Minister Magazine , a journal of the American Baptist Ministers Council. He cites Torah: love God and love your neighbour as yourself Luke ; cf. Lev ; Deut Love is owed to a stranger left for dead on the side of the road , and it is a cultural and religious outsider who extends it. Jesus collapses the two great commandments. If we love God, we love our neighbours, whoever they are.
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- Teach Kids about Heaven Activity 1:.
We love our neighbours because we love God. The onlooker who wisely recited Torah then adds a question Luke : Who is my neighbour? Your neighbour is the one in need.
Your neighbour is the one in need, even when they are not part of your community. We are to love across boundaries. Love not only family and tribe, or those of our race and nation, or gender and religion, or sexual orientation and socio-economic status. Love not only the citizen but also the refugee. Simply love your neighbour as yourself, says Jesus. Love the one in need as you love yourself. Animals are neighbours too. If this sounds odd, note the vague kinship between this parable and remarks Jesus made about an animal fallen into a pit Matt Humans extending kindness to nonhumans—Jesus expects it of the God-fearing.
A brief hint of cross-species compassion? Francis of Assisi. This is not usual fare for us. Few of the fifty or so students and staff in attendance had previous experience of animal blessing or animal-themed services, or even heard sermons suggesting animals are theologically consequential or relevant for religious ethics. So, how to get that point across? Enter Daisy, the tripod puppy and newest layabout at chez Gilmour who joined me for the service. Last spring I received word from one of our graduates of a stray dog found injured at the side of the road after being hit by a car.
This was a costly act of kindness. I wanted students to meet Daisy. There is room in the church for other species. The church, represented in that moment by a generous, self-sacrificing student, reached out to a helpless animal and saved her life. A Christian reached across boundaries to show the love of God. And at this St. The hope was to help participants make the connection between sweet Daisy who made all in the room smile that day, and other equally vulnerable, equally important animals who live and die as part of the food industry.
I am pleased some students and staff at Providence University College are making that connection, leaving meat off their plates as an expression of compassion. His most recent book is a study of animals in the writings of C. Lewis Palgrave Macmillan, Reprinted here with permission. The Resurrection illustrates what good love looks like.
When love is good, it has the power to transform us and offer new life to the world! It was a job he seemed to relish. Rambo you see, was a hateful, hostile, raging Jacob ram. If you happened to be the poor, helpless human assigned to feed the sheep for the day, Rambo was ready to draw first blood. He would rear up on his hind legs and come at you head-first, full speed ahead, with those twisted horns of his.
Kathy and her team had rescued Rambo from an animal hoarder. There were seventeen animals locked in a very small, filthy stall.
The Raging Rambo
One was a dead cow. The other animals were adopted, but Rambo was too violent. Even a few very experienced sheepherders tried to take him in, but they gave up within a few days. It was hard to know what to do with him. There was deep concern for the safety of farm workers and the rest of the sheep.