1 Corinthians 15:35-58
Unless we have heavenly empathy, we cannot feel the pain and suffering of
the whole of creation, and let us remember that pain and suffering can be
mental as well as physical.
Furthermore, both humans and other animals can have this kind of pain and suffering.
Whether or not we experience pain and suffering we all need to have heavenly empathy, for it is the only way we can live in the heavenly will of God.
And, if we have heavenly empathy, we do not think in terms of revenge or retaliation or any other violent form of action, for we are all peacemaking children of God.
And even the people who inflict pain and suffering upon others quite often are themselves suffering some form of mental pain and suffering, and if we truly have heavenly empathy, we will recognize both the mental and physical pain in others.
Let us think about these things as we look at Luke 6:27-38, where Jesus tells us how we are to apply our heavenly empathy to others.
27. "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate
28. bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
If we truly love and have compassion and empathy, we will recognize that
these people usually have some inner pain and suffering, and when we come to
understand these things, we also donít develop any anger or feel like
getting back at them.
However, this does not mean that we should want to be around them or trust them, and we should be cautious of them because they could hurt us, but through all of this we should still have empathy for them.
29. "Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.
In other words, if we truly love them as God created them to be, we will not fight with them or seek to take revenge on them.
30. "Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.
We should also be prudent in the way we give for if we suspect or know that someone has an addiction and they ask for money to buy something to eat, we should not give them money, but rather offer to buy them something to eat.
31. "And just as you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way.
And this holds true even for people who raise animals for slaughter or do
other horrible things to innocent beings.
We should do whatever peaceable things we can to prevent them from harming others, but at the same time we need to love them as God created them to be.
32. "And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For
even sinners love those who love them.
33. "And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
34. "And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount.
If we only do these things, it indicates that we donít have heavenly empathy, for heavenly empathy extends to every other living soul.
35. "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
This is what it means to have heavenly empathy, and we need to be like the Lord our God.
36. "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Jesus set the example for us to live by here on earth, and we need to follow those examples.
37. "And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.
This doesnít mean that we are not to be cautious and discern evil intent; this means that we are not to condemn them, and always have the capacity to forgive them.
38. "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken
together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard
of measure it will be measured to you in return."
This is what happens when we have heavenly empathy, and it needs to be
extended to every other living being, whether they are human beings or
non-humans; having heavenly empathy makes no distinctions.
Keep in mind what it means to have heavenly empathy as we look at 1 Corinthians 15:35-58Ö
35. But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?"
If we have heavenly empathy, we just accept it as a gift from God that we
care about the whole of Godís creation; it isnít important how empathy works
or how it came about; by faith we just accept it and know that we care.
By faith we should just accept the miracle of someone being raised from the dead; the only people who seem to question it are those who have no faith.
36. You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies;
37. and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.
It is really by faith that we expect a seed that we put in the ground to
grow into a plant, because that is the way that God created them to be.
In a very similar way, we believe that God created all of us with the capacity to love and to have compassion and empathy, but some of us choose to reject it, such as people who are self-centered for they are only concerned about themselves and not every other living being.
Why do we believe this?
Because God created us in His image, unlike the plants, as Paul discusses next.
38. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.
In Paulís day they knew nothing about genes and DNA, so they had to go only
on what they could observe, and while he accurately observed the
differences, he missed how closely related to one another we really are.
To us, it seems that when God created us, He just tweaked a little of the genetic material we are made of to create other living beings, and personally I think that would have been a lot of fun, and at that time we donít believe that God ever expected us to act so wickedly against other humans and animals.
For the most part, humans no longer have heavenly empathy.
39. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and
another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.
40. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.
And today, we are finding out that everything is really closely related, and why it is so important for us to have heavenly empathy.
41. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
However, even though Paul did not fully understand the physical realm, he seemed to have a fairly strong understanding of the spiritual realm.
42. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body,
it is raised an imperishable body;
43. it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
44. it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
Yet even to this very day there are many people who donít understand these things.
45. So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
We believe that Paul is referring to Jesus as being the last Adam; and note
carefully that Paul acknowledges that Adam was a living soul, and since the
Hebrew Bible uses the phrase neh-fesh khah-yaw to describe a living soul, we
need to wake up to the fact that this same Hebrew phrase was used to
describe Godís creation of all other animals.
Thus, we are all living souls.
46. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.
This is as we are told in Genesis 2 that God formed Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed His Spirit into him and he became a living soul.
47. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.
As we explained above, the first man is Adam, and the second man is Jesus.
48. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.
In other words, if we are not living in the heavenly will of God, we are earthy.
49. And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
I believe that we all can see that we look earthy, like everyone else, but
we also have the spiritual image of God within us, and we can also have the
Holy Spirit of God within us, it we donít reject Him.
We are to be the peacemaking children of God, who live in His heavenly will here on earth as it is in heaven.
50. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
In other words, we cannot enter or inherit the kingdom of God in our physical bodies; we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit so we can enter heaven in our spiritual bodies, and so we shall be forever and ever.
51. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all
52. in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
We believe that this is true of every living being here on earth, but not all of them will enter into heaven; in fact, Jesus tells us that most of the human race will not enter for they are going along the broad way of corrupt earthly living that leads to destruction.
53. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must
put on immortality.
54. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory.
Then Paul tells us about the difference.
55. "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"
56. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
57. but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
In other words, we need to be consistently living in the heavenly will of
God and have heavenly empathy which allows us feel the emotions of others,
almost as God does, and dedicate ourselves to being obedient children here
on earth as it is in heaven.
We can help eliminate the violent ways of this world that causes millions of humans and billions of animals to suffer and die every year.
We can and should be doing this.
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