Kill one another; just don’t harm the animals
One awful day on my childhood farm a beloved pet ran in front of the Schwann’s truck. I think I was crying and writhing as much as the critically injured dog. Out of love for the animal, my older brother swiftly put it out of its misery with a gun. He wiped tears from his eyes as he walked slowly back to the farm house and faced my wrath. I didn’t understand it. I was offended. I thought a vet could have saved my pet. As an adult I realize how severe the injuries were, how hard it was for my brother to do that, and how selfish it would have been to prolong the dog’s misery on a long ride to the vet’s office.
Doing the right thing can be ugly. Farm life teaches that lesson early.
According to MSN.com, in April a man was severely beaten in Detroit for ‘doing the right thing’. Leading up to the attack, a child (as children, and pets, will sometimes do) ran in front of his vehicle and was struck down. He immediately stopped and got out to make sure the child was okay. The child suffered a broken leg and was treated and released from the hospital. The conscientious driver, on the other hand, remains hospitalized with head injuries after an angry mob gave him what they felt he had coming.
Moving on to more positive things: the movie ‘God’s Not Dead’ continues to bring in surprising numbers in limited theaters across the country. We had the chance to see it in the theater. And I absolutely loved it.
Meanwhile another religious movie, Noah, has also made the news. I haven’t seen it. According to the reviews I read, the movie has offended people from several faiths. (Spoiler alert) After the flood, movie Noah believes the human race needs to die out. Then the earth and the animals can live without humanity’s continued assaults. In the end, Noah is unable to bring himself to murder his newborn grandchildren. I don’t wish to offend my vegetarian friends, but it seems that Genesis nine was turned upside down in this rendering. And maybe that’s not all bad: internet Bible searches rose sharply after the movie was released.
One doesn’t have to look far to be offended these days. Yahoo.com reported that Church flyers for an Easter egg hunt offended parents at a school with a large Muslim population in Michigan. But a church representative assured the school that the upcoming Easter event (being held at the church) “Has nothing whatsoever to do with religion.”
Sometimes it seems the wrong group gets upset. If a Christian church is hosting outreach efforts that have nothing to do with Christianity’s confessed Savior, then shouldn’t Christians be offended, and Muslims untroubled, by this event?
At one time I didn’t fully understand the phrase ‘cultural Christianity’. Cultural Christianity is a lot like a politician attending church merely to appease his voting demographic. A cultural Christian may identify himself as a Christian. But by definition he does not make Jesus lord of his life; does not carry the love of God into daily living, business ethics, relationships, or personal choices.
Whereas: Christians are expected to make difficult choices that go against a fallen nature. There is no room for partiality or offense. They are commanded to pray for those who persecute them and forgive those who wound them (Matthew 5). They are told to be very good to their employees and farm laborers (James 5). They are to treat different ethnicities, the widow, and the fatherless with great love (Deuteronomy 10).
We live in complicated times. People are being beaten up for being conscientious. It seems like a natural conclusion to get offended and blame the ethnic group that’s different from our own, the atheists (or the Christians if you are an atheist), the vegetarians (or the meat eaters if you are vegan), the say-anything politicians, the ‘cultural’ Christians, or the mean older brother who just doesn’t get it…
I didn’t talk to my brother for weeks after he showed mercy on my dying pet. Point being: if people weren’t so easily offended, doing the right thing wouldn’t be as difficult. We may live in a culture that sells us the message: “kill one another, just don’t harm the animals”, but we don’t have to buy into it.
So, although it’s about thirty years too late, my apologies to my brother for that time you did a hard thing on the farm and I got so ticked about it. My anger only made doing the right thing even harder for you. (However, this apology does not include all the other times you definitely had it coming.)
Andrea Beyers lives in Roscoe. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.