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.

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My Soapbox

I’ve got to get something off my chest. I know this is risky. I’m sure I’ll be misunderstood. There may even be some backlash. But I’ve got to say it. Especially since it’s January.

I don’t like the “read the Bible in a year” plans.

I think it’s a terrible idea. I know it goes against Christian culture. I know there are dozens of plans available. I know many Bibles include it. I know lots of people, pastors and ministries support it. But really – it’s a bad idea.

Why?

Because it values quantity over quality. Because it makes reading the Bible seem like a project on your to-do list. Because it forces you to rush through chapters in order to stay on schedule. Because if you fall behind, you’ll never catch up and will more than likely give up. Because you probably won’t remember very much of what you’ve read at the end of the year.

And what’s the purpose? Just to say you’ve read the entire Bible in a year’s time?

I’m not so sure this is how it’s supposed to work.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in reading the Bible. I believe we should read it every day. I believe we should read all of it – every book, every chapter, every verse. But I don’t think it’s something to be rushed. And I don’t think it should be an item to be checked off your to-do list.

Think about this: Colossians 2:3 says In Him [Jesus] lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And John 1:14 says the Word became human and made His home among us. In Jesus, Who is the Word, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The Bible is full of treasures. That’s just not something you hurry through. That’s going to take time to mine and excavate.

Reading the Bible is like reading a love letter. You have to take the time to savor every word. Drink in its meaning and absorb the intent. You need to read and re-read passages and let Truth wash over you. You must soak it in, allowing it to water your dry and thirsty soul. Time is needed for meditation and rumination. Linger in His Presence and allow Holy Spirit to speak to you. Wait on Him to bring revelation and understanding.

And when you’ve absorbed His Word deeply, you’re in a much better position to be impacted and experience change. You’re now in a position to actually do something with what you’ve read. You are positioned to encounter God and experience the supernatural. You’re positioned for intimacy with Him.

But none of that will happen if the clock is ticking and you’re desperate to meet a deadline. You’ll miss the beauty and intimacy if you’re racing through.

And how do I know this? Because I’ve done this.

So I encourage you toss out that plan for cramming reading in a year. Instead, choose a starting place and begin to read, asking Holy Spirit for wisdom and understanding as you read. Read every day. Take your time. Stop and ponder. Cross reference for better understanding. Meditate. Write down your thoughts. Write down what you hear Him saying to you. Ruminate. The number of verses/chapters is irrelevant. Just read and let Him speak.

Then return to that same place tomorrow, picking up where you left off. And read through that book again and again until you’ve exhausted it, drawing all you possibly can from it. You may read that same book for 4 months – that’s OK! You could spend a lifetime in that one book and never find all the hidden treasure there. Take your time. There’s no rush!

And if it takes you three years – five years – to make it through the entire Bible, so be it.

Bible Reading Plan