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An Inspirational Discussion
For 4 February 2001
Commentary from Steve Kaufman:
May the peace of Christ be with you.
There is certainly a common theme to this weeks readings. I elect to focus on the Isaiah passage, which speaks to the universal sense of unworthiness. The world is truly awesome, and who am I to deserve a place in such a wondrous location? I too have "unclean lips" and "dwell in the midst of people of unclean lips." Who is worthy to preach the good news? Who can hope to be sanctified in the eyes of God? The answer, I think, lies in divine forgiveness. "To know all is to forgive all," and perhaps this is a basis for believing that God forgives our waywardness, if we genuinely strive to do better.
Fearing death and divine judgment, we want to believe ourselves justified before God, yet we sense our failures. Throughout human history, people have resisted responsibility for their misdeeds and, instead, blamed other people, scapegoating innocent individuals for their sins. By trusting in Gods forgiveness, we can acknowledge our shortcomings and refrain from scapegoating.
It seems to me, sadly, that one barrier to vegetarianism among many Christians is a lack of faith in divine forgiveness. People are so desperate to maintain a self-image as a "good person" that they avoid finding out the true consequences of modern animal agriculture to humans, the environment, and animals. This is yet another reason why our Christian vegetarianism, which exalts our Christianity and vegetarianism together, is indeed good news.
I hope others will share their thoughts and feelings.
In Christian love,
Commentary by Frank L. Hoffman:
Greetings in the peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
I would also like us to consider Isaiah 6:1-8, and in particular verse 5, where Isaiah expresses his unrighteousness before our holy God, "the King, the Lord of hosts."
People who try to justify their behavior before God and others, must by necessity also reduce the righteousness of God to their standards. This is not getting to know God on his terms and according to His creation intent. It is only a way of self-deception, and a way of remaining unrepentant in our sins.
When we truly come to recognize the holiness and righteousness of God, even with a repentant heart, we also realize the vast difference between His character and ours. One could even say that the closer we come to God the further we realize we have to travel to reach Him and His standard of living. Thus, like the prophet, we say, "Woe is me."
It is this very recognition that results in the offering of forgiveness from our merciful Lord, who reaches out and takes away our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (v. 6-7).
It is also quite interesting to understand that this forgiveness came to Isaiah without the sacrifice of an animal, as was the tradition in those days. It came to him purely as a matter of God's grace, as it should have to everyone else.
The animal sacrificial system was just another way of remaining in our sins, and making a scapegoat of the animal. As long as there was another innocent animal, people were able to "cover" another sin without real repentance. This is way Isaiah refers to them as murderers in 1:21. True forgiveness always begins with wholly repentant heart, which accepts our own responsibility, and is received from our merciful and gracious God.
But as with Isaiah, God never seems to leave it at forgiveness. He calls us into service to set an example before others.
I pray that each and every one of us hears the Lord calling to us as He did to Isaiah, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" And likewise, I pray that each and every one of us would respond as Isaiah, "Here I am. Send me!"
There should never be any embarrassment about being a committed Christian vegetarian, because it's what we know to be God's intent for our lives. It's part of being the peacemakers for whom the whole of creation eagerly awaits (Roman 8:18f).
May the peace of God be with us all.
In the Love of the Lord,
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