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Working for Unconditional Compassion

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Working for Unconditional Compassion
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
11 November 2012
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Exodus 23:4-5
Jeremiah 1:1-10
5:30-31

We are always getting letters from people who are truly trying to make this a better and Godlier world.
 
One of the people we’ve been chatting with for a while decided she wanted to take some direct action in her community.
 
She sent us a copy of a letter that she is sending to all the pastors in her area, concerning this holiday season, and how these pastors should take a stand against the horrible treatment of farmed animals and what people plan to eat for their holiday meals.
 
She went on to say that these pastors are in a position of authority; and   because of that, the members of their congregation would listen to them.
 
It was an excellent letter, and very true.
 
Unfortunately, our society got into the cruel ways of treating farmed animals because the vast majority of pastors and other religious leaders failed to speak up about the ungodly ways animals were being treated; or even worse, many of them agreed with it.
 
We hope and pray that all these pastors would respond to her and really want to help.
 
But think about how horrible it will be if none of them respond, which we have seen happen in the past; for they would be saying by their silence that they would rather go along with the ways of the world than with the ways of God.
 
And the people likewise would go along with it, because they are followers of their leader.
 
Jeremiah saw this kind of corruption in his day. Note what he wrote in Jeremiah 5:30-31…

30. "An appalling and horrible thing
Has happened in the land:
 
31. The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority;
And My people love it so!
But what will you do at the end of it?
NASB

There is something very interesting about spiritual truth; it can apply to any number of situations.
 
They are there to teach us to live Godly lives, and to turn away from the ways of the world, whether they worship idols of their own making, or they are directly or indirectly causing the atrocities that are happening to most of the animals in this world.
 
Without asking these pastors a question as Jeremiah did, this woman is really asking it in a way that hopefully convicts their hearts and souls.
 
Jeremiah asks, “What will you do at the end of it?”
 
What will any of us do when we have to answer for our ungodly deeds and complacency?
 
The Bible never condones the cruel treatment of animals.
 
Note the example given in Exodus 23:4-5 for so-called “beasts of burden”:

4. "If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him.
 
5. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him.
NASB

To put it another way, the welfare of the animals is much more important than any human disagreements or squabbles, and if we’d learn to live this way all the time, we could even end wars and terrorist activities.
 
And I fully believe that the more than 50 billion farmed and laboratory animals who suffer and die every year look upon human beings as terrorists and operators of concentration camps.
 
So why is there such a divide between those who care about the rights and welfare of animals and those who abuse the animals or are indifferent to their suffering?
 
We believe that it’s because those who take part in the suffering of animals “love it so,” even if they won’t admit it to themselves, and they feel exposed or threatened by anyone who is showing the public the truth about what they are participating in.
 
Let’s go on and look at another example…
 
Also this week we received a copy of an open letter from Karen Davis, the president of United Poultry Concerns, that she wrote to National Public Radio and their member stations.
 
In her letter she urged them to encourage and promote compassionate holiday dining and respectful attitudes toward turkeys, for all too often they are demeaned, which adds to people’s indifference to their suffering.
 
Think about something: if we call someone a “turkey,” aren’t we really demeaning them and the turkeys?
 
Even though Karen doesn’t mention it in her letter, what is happening to turkeys and other farmed animals is absolutely ungodly; her message says the same thing in other words.
 
After last week’s sermon about Halloween being the corruption of a once Godly holiday, a few people wrote that they disagreed with my comments about Halloween being ungodly, because they enjoyed the holiday and didn’t feel it was ungodly.
 
However, Elaine wrote and said, “...just because we ENJOY something does not make it GODLY.”
 
This also is the key point about what is happening to farmed animals so that human beings can enjoy a festive holiday meal.
 
We used to eat animals, too; but for the past 26 years we have enjoyed our festive vegan holiday meals even more, for everything else is the same.
 
And because we know that no animals had to suffer or die so that we could enjoy ourselves, it made everything that much better.
 
We had returned to eating God’s original vegan cuisine!
 
This is what these women are working for.
 
They want to wake people up to how we and our society are distorting and excusing away God’s heavenly will in order to indulge in ungodly worldly practices.
 
Making a roasted and decorated cadaver of a turkey the centerpiece of a holiday meal isn’t anything to ooh and awe about; it’s showing us the depravity of our society and the people who are celebrating the meal.
 
And we know this because we used to be like them, until we finally listened to the unction of the Holy Spirit.
 
Something similar happened to the prophet Jeremiah, as we are told in Jeremiah 1:1-10.

1. The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin,
 
2. to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
 
3. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month.

We should note carefully that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah after he had become a priest, though probably early in his ministry, at least this word that changed his life.
 
I also believe that this was the time in Jeremiah’s life when he was born again, when the power of the Holy Spirit came upon him.

4. Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,
 
5. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."

This is extremely important for us to understand.
 
God knows us from the very beginning; well before we understand who God really is or we’re able to accept Him into our lives.
 
The power of the Holy Spirit has also been around us to urge us to reject the ways of the world and to serve God according to His heavenly will.
 
And I know this as a fact, for once I was born again I recognized all the times the Holy Spirit had touched me, and I wasn’t willing to accept what He was trying to show me, or to change the way I was living.
 
Now, part of our ministry is to help others see these times and situations in their lives, and to fully accept what the Holy Spirit is trying to have them live, which I totally believe is in accordance with God’s creation and heavenly will.

6. Then I said, "Alas, Lord GOD!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth."

I know the feeling, which I believe is a form of “stage fright” when we first recognize the tremendous responsibility that our ministry carries with it.
 
But then the Lord comforted me as He did Jeremiah.

7. But the LORD said to me,
"Do not say, 'I am a youth,'
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
 
8. "Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you," declares the LORD.
 
9. Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me,
"Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
 
10. "See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant."
NASB

This is exactly what the women we spoke about in the beginning are being called to do.
 
They are reaching out to the world around them to pluck up and break down, and destroy and overthrow all the evil practices and attitudes in this world that cause all the horrible pain, suffering, and death that has become a standard way of life for most people.
 
They are trying to build and plant a compassionate way of living in this earth for the benefit of every other human being, for every other animal, and for the environment in which we all live.
 
This is exactly what each and every one of us should be doing.
 
Amen.