It’s taken about a month of research, careful thought and prayer but I think I’ve finally got it. What makes Lauren Sheil tick? An unwavering conviction that ALL life is sacred, the greatest commandment ever given is to love one another and that the best way to demonstrate those two convictions is through a life of service.
Life is Sacred
What does that mean? Does it mean I’m going to join P.E.T.A. or become a vegetarian? No, plants are living things too. I still have to eat but there is no point in un-necessary suffering or eating food that has a major impact on the environment. Short of moving to a farm and eating only what I raise myself it’s not possible to monitor everything about what I eat, just being conscious of it is enough.
What this really means is changing the lens with which I look at the world. Everything that affects the quality of life from obvious human rights violations to climate change policies has an impact. It goes way beyond being an environmentalist or animal rights activist. When all life is sacred there is no justification for war or oppression of any type, just as there is no justification for clear cutting forests, dumping toxic waste into a river or capital punishment.
In my second entry on this blog I stated that Peace without Justice is Oppression (My Peace Statement, Aug 9, 2009) I believe that even more strongly today. Life is sacred and any action that devalues life is sin, plain and simple.
Love One Another
36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matt. 22:36-39
I’m going to upset a lot of people, Christians especially, when I say this but NOBODY does this right. Okay, maybe some people do but they are few and far between.
The first thing to note here is that Jesus was asked to give ONE law but ended up giving TWO. Why did he do that? I think it’s because they are impossible to separate. God is so deeply involved in the lives of people that you cannot demonstrate your love for him in isolation. So showing love to God with all your heart, soul and mind is done by showing that same love to your neighbour.
But who then is my neighbour? In Luke’s account of this same incident Jesus goes on to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s a well know story so I won’t recount it here but the bottom line is everyone is your neighbour; regardless of race, health, wealth or social standing! Most Christians I know would do well to stop here and read that again. We get a bad rap in the world because even non-Christians understand the meaning of this, they look to us to demonstrate it and all too often we fail. If Jesus were to tell this parable to Christians today he could just as easily call it the Good Muslim and instead of a traveller beaten up and left for dead on the side of the road it could be a gay man dying of AIDS.
God is far more interested in the condition of our hearts than some arbitrary rule of who’s inside or who’s outside of the circle. Suffering is suffering and loving service to individuals is the only appropriate response.
This brings me to my final point:
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. John 13:12-14
The significance of foot washing has been lost in our modern context. Today when we come in to someone’s house we take off our shoes but in Jesus day when a person came in from the outdoors, especially after travelling a long distance they had to wash their feet. People wore sandals and so their feet would have obviously been dirty. In a larger house the job of washing a visitor’s feet would have fallen to the lowliest of servants. So when Jesus, the “Lord”, washed the feet of his disciples at the last supper it would have been shocking to everyone present, in fact Peter was so horrified at the thought that he initially refused to allow it.
Jesus teaching on how to show love comes down to this moment, as the most powerful human ever to walk the earth, he was in essence GOD, Jesus tells us to wash one another’s feet. Relinquish your “standing” in any situation and willingly do the most menial of tasks in the service of others.
So there you have it; my purpose in life and the reasoning behind it.
Respect Life, Love All and Serve.