The value of life.

Ok. I’ve got to step on my soapbox. This is a bit wordy and still doesn’t say all I’m thinking.

Since when did the value of an animal supersede that of a human? When did an animal’s life become more important than a person? How did we – the body of Christ – come to equate the two?

While animals are a creation of Abba, they do not have a spirit. While animals are beautiful, they are not the capstone of His creation. While animals are to be enjoyed by humans, they are not to be treasured the way human life is.

In no way can an animal compare with the magnificence of humanity. Human life is superior because we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Human life is priceless because Jesus left the splendor of heaven, enrobed Himself in humanity and became one of us (John 1:14) in order to sacrifice His life to redeem us (Titus 2:14) and have a relationship with us (1Peter 3:18.) Our uniqueness can be seen in the truth that humans will live forever (Daniel 12:2).

None of that can be said of an animal. Any animal. So when we value the life of an animal over any human life – and life does start at conception – we have fallen for the lies of the enemy. We have been deceived. Our enemy has succeeded in shifting our focus from Abba’s greatest passion – humanity.

This deception can be seen as we display grief for the mistreatment of an animal but accept the actions of Planned Parenthood as part of our culture. It can be seen as we simply shake our head over ISIS executions but are outraged over the death of an animal. It can be seen as we pour our money into animal rights and neglect human rights. It is seen in our concern for homeless animals but our indifference to homeless humans. It can be seen as we ignore human trafficking but rescue animals.

I am not suggesting that we ignore animals or treat them poorly. They are a part of Abba’s brilliant, spectacular creation. They were given to humans to enjoy and care for (Genesis 1:28). It is our responsibility to govern all of creation responsibly.

However, let’s place animals in their right place. Lower than humans. Less valuable than humans. Not as important as humans. And if a choice is to be made – we must choose humans. We should be passionate about humans. Our hearts should be broken for the loss of any human life. We should weep over the injustice of human trafficking. We should display holy, righteous anger at abortion. We should stand up for humans who cannot protect or defend themselves. We should pour our resources into rescuing and caring for humans. These are the true social injustices.

We should feel these injustices so deeply that we are moved to action. Action that is Spirit-led and flows from love. This is exactly what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 25:31-46 (NLT)

But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit upon His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in His presence, and He will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at His right hand and the goats at His left.

 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit Me.’ 

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?’

“And He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.’

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

This is the heart of Abba: caring for humanity. And we’ve got to get this right because He will ask us about our response to the needs to humans when we see Him face-to-face.

He’s stretching me!

I don’t like to be uncomfortable in any area of my life. I like things to be simple, smooth and easy. Uncomplicated. Painless. I like to be comfortable.

So you can imagine my unhappiness when I recently experienced some muscle issues that caused me to be uncomfortable. I felt very tight and sore – for no apparent reason. Not only was I uncomfortable, but my movement was limited in various ways.

So my friend Ali has been helping me work all this out. One of the things she instructed me to do was to stretch. I reported that I already stretch regularly and showed her what I was doing. I have to admit, I do those stretches quite well. I’ve been doing them a long time and am very good at them. She kindly pointed out that those stretches are not benefiting me – they were not stretching the muscles that need to be stretch. (insert big sigh here)

So she gave me some very specific stretches to do. They are stretching different muscles. And I don’t like it. I don’t want to do them. They are uncomfortable. They pull muscles that I didn’t know I had.

So I mentioned this to Ali and she confirmed that it will be uncomfortable but it’s needed. She said stretching these muscles would increase my range of motion and ability.  Stretching these muscles would enable me to do what I was currently unable to do.

And that’s when it hit me. I do the same thing spiritually. Because I don’t like to be uncomfortable, I stick with what I know. I stick with what I can do. I stick with what is easy. I stick to what is comfortable.  I don’t want to get outside my comfort zone because I don’t know what’s out there. I don’t know if I am able to do whatever it is outside my comfort zone.

But Abba started to show me that when He leads me outside my comfort zone it’s for the purpose of stretching me. He is increasing my capacity. He is making more space in me to encounter more of Him.  He is making room for more of His Presence.

He is creating more opportunities for me to rely on Him. He is deepening our relationship, showing me aspects of His faithfulness, love and grace that I have not seen before.  He is leading me to a deeper place where I can encounter more of His glory.

He is revealing to me those gifts and talents that I have yet to discover. He is showing me a new dimension to the gifts and talents I currently operate in. He is allowing me to experience Him in ways that are new to me.

And yes, He said it would be uncomfortable. It would be difficult. It may even be painful. He said I would need to listen more closely and learn how to become more sensitive to His Presence because this is new territory for me. But He promised that He would enable and empower me. He said “Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” (Isaiah 41:10) And He guaranteed me that it would be worth it. To experience more of Him would be more than worth any discomfort I experience.

So – gulp – I’m stepping out of my comfort zone into the great unknown. I’m going to let Him stretch me by leading me to places I’ve never been. I’m going to say yes to wherever He takes me. I’m going to trust that He is faithful to take care of me. While I don’t know what’s ahead, I am sure it’s good – because He is good. (Jeremiah 29:11)For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

ps – if you need a good physical therapist, call my friend Ali at Healing Hands Health and Wellness. She’s GREAT at this whole stretching thing. 810-387-2225 or 810-531-2096