He Prayeth Best, Who Loveth Best

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He Prayeth Best, Who Loveth Best

A Sermon Delivered at the
Compassion Internet Christian Church

16 October 2011

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Genesis 1:29-31
Proverbs 12:10
Ezekiel 11:19-21
Matthew 5:48
        6:10
Mark 9:42

There is a passage near the end of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, that’s an excellent summary to answering the question of why we have so many problems in the world today.

"He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all."

The story of this poem is about a mariner who shoots and kills an albatross who would return to the ship every evening in time for evening prayers.

The crew, who curiously considered the albatross to be a Christian sign, stood by, without any objection, and watched the mariner kill the innocent bird.

Because of their complacency in the killing, the crew eventually dies of thirst upon the placid sea and only the mariner lives on to tell the tale.

Eventually, the mariner repents of his actions and begins to love and respect the whole of God’s creation, beginning with a sea snake whom he previously loathed.

When human beings kill another living being, or are complacent in the killing, such as when we eat or wear animal products, we have to harden our hearts and souls to not have empathy for those animals and their desire to live free of pain and suffering.

It is this hardness of heart that separates us from God, and makes it harder for us to pray in the will of God, for we pray best when we love best.

Putting limits on our love also puts limits on our prayers and communion with God.

Note what we are told in Proverbs 12:10…

10. A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast,
But the compassion of the wicked is cruel.
NAS

When we limit the sphere of unconditional love and compassion in any area of our lives to exclude anyone and anything, we can no longer fully love or have compassion.

Thus, even what that person may consider to be compassionate may actually be considered to be cruel in the eyes of God.

This is also the main reason that we believe that God created this world to be a place where all living beings would only eat plant foods, for such food would never lead to the hardening of our hearts.

Note what we are told in Genesis 1:29-31…

29. Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;

30. and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food "; and it was so.

31 And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
NAS

Children seem to have been born with a desire to love and touch animals, which will guide their lives until they are taught to fear or exploit them.

It’s like Harvey Diamond said, “You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I’ll buy you a new car.”

Children are not born to be cruel and indifferent to animals and their suffering. It is taught and learned from the people around them, as is which animal to treat lovingly as a companion, and which animal he or she can eat.

These acts are leading our children astray and making our society harder and harder of heart.

Thus, Jesus tells us in Mark 9:42…

42. "And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”
NAS

Isn’t this similar to what happened to Israel when they were led into captivity in Assyria, and to Judah when they were led into captivity in Babylon?

The harder their hearts became, the further they moved away from God, and their prayers became worthless.

But from Babylon, the prophet Ezekiel gives them a promise of hope, as we are told in Ezekiel 11:19-21…

19. "And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

20. that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.

21. "But as for those whose hearts go after their detestable things and abominations, I shall bring their conduct down on their heads," declares the Lord GOD.
NAS

Unfortunately, these changes of heart are all too often of short duration, and only in a very few cases are they completely accepted.

Why?

Because they fail to love God completely, including the whole of His creation.

This is why Jesus commands us in Matthew 5:48…

48. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
NAS

And He goes on to tell us how to pray for this in Matthew 6:10…

10. ‘Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.’
NAS

There is no pain or death or mourning in heaven, and there should be none on earth, either, as far as each of us is concerned in our lives.

When we take the exploitation of animals, the root cause of human hardness of heart, out of our lives, we will find a true softening of our hearts, and as with the mariner, we will once again be able to commune with God.

Amen?

Amen