Before the following scripture passage on love, Paul is instructing the Colossian church that since their earthly nature “died” in Christ, they are to set their minds on things above and “put to death” (stop doing, annihilate) what belongs to the earthly nature, behavior like “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry (Col 3:5)” and “anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language.” We are “not [to] lie to each other, since [we] have taken off [our] old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Col 3:8-10).” We are being restored to the persons we were created to be. The passage continues: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col 3:12-14).
And what is love?
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
In the words of my friend Winnie Kelly: ” Lord, let us never be afraid to be poured out like an offering; strengthen us to offer all the love, all the heart we can to the world, as we are given the opportunity; encourage us with Your warm internal hugs, and the external hugs of our fellow Christians; and give us sure and certain faith in Your kindness, that we may understand and feel that all will be well….. [that] all things will be marvelous… in the end. Amen.”
In Part One of this series, questions were raised about how we handle what we see and know as animal welfarists; where we find support and Spiritual guidance when our church may not be able to offer it; we asked how we participate in and bring God’s voice to animal advocacy as Christians with a largely secular venue in choices. In Part Two, we listed the questions, and discussed ways we fight Spiritual Warfare. Though we may not recognize them as such, here are some of those ways:
Don’t be afraid to be “poured out like an offering” – we came to believe in Christ, pledged to follow Him when we accepted the salvation He offers us. Our lives are not our own, we give up our life to find it (Matt 10:39; 16:25; also see this piece on Stewardship).
Jesus is our example, He defines what it looks like for us to follow Him. Though many churches today have taught that all that is needed is to believe and we are saved, that it is a free gift, which would be true – salvation itself is a free gift; however, we also are called at this point to pick up our cross and follow Him, which requires some things of us.
Accepting Christ should change us – we no longer follow the patterns of this world but are set apart from it (the culture is one of those patterns) – we should look and act differently than the world around us; we should be known by our love for each other, the earth and animal kingdom. We are to work toward creating His Kingdom on earth. Our lifestyle should reflect our new values – the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22,23) becoming our character more and more as we pledge daily to follow Christ. We examine how we live upon the earth, how we partake in the culture around us. The “earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains” (Psalm 24:1) – how do we treat it? How does the world treat it? How do we treat animals (they are His)? How does the world treat animals?
In an earlier post, Christ and Consumerism was discussed. Ask yourself, “What kind of a consumer am I?
- Do I know the process by which all the stuff on the shelves at Walmart and the like come from, ie: packaging, fur and leather, etc?
- Do I know where all the food at the grocers comes from?
- Do I know the process involved in capturing, preparing animals and housing them after the shows that bring mankind their ‘entertainment’ in aquariums, circus’, and so on?”
- We are the stewards of the earth – what kind of steward am I? What kind of values, behavior do I inadvertently support as a consumer?
Don’t feel shame or guilt at what you find; that is what Satan would want. Instead, turn to the Lord, ask forgiveness for anything you find that falls short of acting in the character of Christ, ask for His Spirit to fill and guide you, ask that He show “you where the good way is and walk in it” (Jer 6:16).
The good and the evil are all mixed up together (Matthew 13:24-30).
- It will be impossible to avoid partaking in many processes that cause suffering somewhere – we all take or have taken medication for example – we do the best we can to educate ourselves and then make choices to in as much as is possible avoid those products and services that we know are created by the suffering of another;
- We minimize use wherever we can in other areas, ie: products/food we cannot avoid (food is an area we can all make a huge difference just by adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet – more on the topic of vegetarianism and the Bible coming);
- Buy in bulk, items that are not packaged, compost, recycle everything you can.
These are some ways we can live “counter-culturally” and thus not according to the “patterns of this world.”
There is an urgency many of us are sensing – more and more people are coming forward expressing that the issues of animal exploitation be addressed. Especially since we have the internet we see and hear about incidents like what happened to the little white dog Guero (parts one and two) much more so than we ever use to. This urgency may be the Spirit of God calling us forward – don’t be afraid to speak out.
- Tell church leaders about what you may be feeling, ask them to begin a theological discussion about the ways we treat animals.
- Tell them you want them to get educated on the realities for the animal kingdom in ALL the industries that exploit them.
- Utilize our Resource page for material that you can present to leaders at your church.
- Use the HSUS Faith Outreach Program materials and ask your church to host one or all of their programs.
Remember that a large part of Jesus’ work on the cross was about restoring the Father’s created order of complete Shalom to His creation. We live in an ‘already-not yet‘ state; ask the Lord to give you visions of His Kingdom to come, and act in accordance with that vision.
Never give up! Use scripture as a tool of Spiritual Warfare, commit passages to memory; for examples, Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up;” 2 Timothy 1-7 “God did not give us a spirit of fear…..;” the passages on the Spiritual disciplines, 2 Peter 1:5-7, “…add to your faith goodness; to goodness, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”
God’s people need to pray – as Greg Boyd is famous for saying, “much hangs in the balance on whether or not God’s people pray.”
- Depend wholly on God; when in your advocacy for animals you see injustice, pray for the proper response – scripture tells us to “ask for wisdom” – then listen for that still small voice as He speaks to you for He surely will if you’ve kept a short account with Him and are making every effort to live righteously before Him (James 5:16)
- Much of unanswered prayer comes from un-confessed fault or sin and an unforgiving spirit – remember, don’t judge the perpetrator. God is keeping accounts and it is “Mine to avenge” says the Lord).
- Remember also the lessons of Job. Job could not understand how bad things were happening to him when he did not sin. There is much more to what is happening in the Spiritual realm that we do not have access to; we need to trust God “with all our hearts, and lean not to our own understanding” (Prov 3:5,6) whether we hear His voice or not. Go here for an excellent sermon on the book of Job.
Next week, we’ll discuss a few more tools of Spiritual Warfare, a little about “putting on the whole armor of God” (Eph 6:10-20), what constitutes being “an ambassador to Christ,” and address the questions that are listed in Part Two in light of what we are finding as tools to help us deal with them.
Thank you for reading! If you have insights into Spiritual Warfare of your own, please let us know, we’d love to hear them! Stay tuned for the series conclusion in our next post! Blessings ~ Kathy