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lambleft.jpg (4091 bytes)lambrt.jpg (4118 bytes)Feelings of Aloneness
By people of compassion
- The Church is Chasing People Away -

Response by Jessica Goeller
29 May 2001

Dear Evelyn and Others,

Evelyn's letter struck a note with me.

I was also horrified to read the ministers' response to the letter.  I agree that the outright hostility of the response was out of proportion, which to me indicates that they knew they were wrong deep inside, and felt ashamed.  However, we must guard against the idea that people who don't agree with us aren't Christians.  It's an easy position to take, and too often, it is wrong.

Although I do believe it's against G-d's will to eat animals, I don't think being a Christian is contingent on this.  Being a Christian is contingent on one thing only: a personal relationship with Christ, your savior.  Plenty of people are willing to step forward to say "such-and-such kind of people aren't Christians because...." but only G-d is the judge of that.  And we must resist the temptation to feel smug and superior because "those other people who do/believe/are X" aren't *really* Christians (but we are).  In the end, it's G-d who will judge, not us.  And we can't forget that.

A few examples: my own mother, who taught me compassion for animals, is not a vegetarian. However, she has always been the person in the neighborhood who has taken in every stray dog and cat, and either found it a good home, or taken care of it herself.   She has raised two vegetarian children who live in apartments, and cannot take in stray animals.  Whose commitment is more righteous in G-d's eyes?  Neither.   We all do what we are able to do, and what we are called to do.  A friend of mine gave up her home to live and work in a homeless shelter.  I live in a nice apartment, but do free web design and services for charities that help the homeless.   Who is the better Christian?  Neither. We're all doing what we can.

As people of faith, it's sometimes difficult to go out into the world and do good, knowing that there is so much that needs to be done.  War, poverty, animal rights, homelessness, loss, grief --- it surrounds us, and, speaking personally, the desire to want to do something to help *everyone* is overwhelming.

It's easy to say "there's so much to do, nothing I do will make any difference."  But what we really need to do, as people of faith, is to focus our efforts where G-d calls us. For some of us, it's animal rights.  For others, homelessness.  For others, education.  For others, the ministry.  We all have different abilities, different gifts, and different callings.  And even within the same calling, we have different levels of commitment that we're able to make.   G-d sees our actions and knows our hearts. And in the end it is G-d, not us, who will call the world to account for itself.

Health, happiness, and respect,

Jessica

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