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And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Most people can relate to loving members of their family, close friends, and companion animals. However, many people have trouble relating to what it really means to love God, totally, with every part of their being and with everything they are and have, which is the meaning of this verse. Why is this? It’s because we are used to thinking in this physical realm, rather than in the spiritual realm. We can’t see God, physically, as we can other living beings, and this makes it difficult for many people to relate their love toward God in the same way they do to other beings.
The apostle Paul also understood this problem of relating to an invisible God, so in Romans 1:20 he gives us an easy way to relate to God’s spiritual presence in this physical world.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (NASB)
Or we could say, “so that we are without excuse.” We are without excuse, because we can physically see all that God has made.
Thus, part of loving God is to love His creation. This includes what Jesus refers to as the second greatest commandment (Mark 12:31), “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), but it goes a lot further. It includes the rest of creation: other humans, the animals, and the environment.
It is here that we come to the understanding that every believing Jewish and Christian person should also be an advocate for human rights, animal rights, and the protection of the environment. To eliminate any of these from our sphere of compassion is to not fully love God as the commandment instructs us.
If we think about any of our current world problems, and for that matter, any of the problems of the past, we can easily see that they began with a human lack of this perfect love.
Every war we have ever had started over someone’s personal political agenda, and/or the desire to have what the others have. And others join in on one side or the other because of their political agenda or greed. War can rarely be stopped peacefully once it has ignited. The only way to prevent war is for all nations to learn to love and respect their neighbors, as they want others to love and respect them. This takes years of work. Remember what Jesus taught (Matthew 5:9): “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”
Peacemaking is not a passive word. It’s active, and requires human action to bring about a peaceful existence. Furthermore, peacemaking isn’t limited to improving relationships between nations. Peacemaking can be practiced within one’s own family, and must be extended to the animal kingdoms and our environment, for they are all part of God’s creation, which we should love and protect as an expression of our love for God.
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