in purpose, reflection, relationships


I don’t think it was an accident that the topic of our men’s Bible study this past Sunday was ‘Anger’ and how to manage it as a Christian.

Last night as I tossed and turned, I needed to use all the tools we discussed – as I reflected on what I described to my wife as the feeling of living in a Groundhog Day Twilight Zone.

It feels like the same movie plays out over and over again – but doesn’t seem to change.

This is how it FEELS.

The facts may be different. The circumstances may be different. Even the responses may be getting better.

But this is how it FEELS.

In Mark 12, Jesus answered a question about the most important commandment as follows:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31

I don’t think it is an accident that He put these two thoughts together – your relationship to your neighbor is intricately tied to the way you relate to your Creator.

Your relationship with your neighbor is intricately tied to your relationship with yourself.

It may seem like a non-sequitur, but this thought process brought to mind Michael Vick and the way his story played out over the years. His choice to take part in a dogfighting ring cost him his career AND cost him some years of his life that he served in jail.

In some circles, if you bring up his name today, you will immediately hear vitriol and OUTRAGE.

Remember, he mistreated DOGS.

But as much as dogs are wonderful companions and part of the wonderful creation God surrounded us with – they are NOT my neighbor.

So if I have in my heart the capacity to display outrage about the mistreatment of creatures that occupy a lower rung in the hierarchy of value in terms of life … yes, DOGS are lower on the totem pole than human beings … is it so unreasonable to be upset that the response to the mistreatment of them can be exponentially different than to the response towards human beings.

Again, this is how it feels.

Because every time something like this happens, it’s important to pause and reflect on the humanity involved, before going into a rant about politics and social ills.

Reflect on the fact that this is your neighbor.

We are your neighbor ….

…that I am your neighbor and could easily be in a similar situation just because of how I look.

And if you substitute yourself for your neighbor – is that what loving yourself looks like?