Sep 29 2010

Loving Neighbors Across Time

UP HNF Irwin Pond 539When someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was he answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  He went on to say “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 30-31)  Today I want to focus on the second commandment which is, in essence, the flip side of the first.

As Christians we are called to love our neighbor.  Most people know this.  But just who should we consider our neighbor?   I’ve heard lots of different answers to this over the years and almost all of them have had to do with people living in the present.  Almost twenty years ago I came across a book that helped me understand Jesus’ commandment in a whole new light.  That book was Robert Parham’s Loving Neighbors Across Time: A Guide to Protecting the Earth.  In this book Parham claims “the looming environmental crisis demands that we revisit the governing principle of love for neighbor, expanding it from a purely spatial perspective.  We must think about love for neighbor in terms of time.”  He insists that “we must see those who live in the year 2050 as our neighbors, as real neighbors.  Our unseen great-grandchildren and those of others are as much our neighbors as our present family members and the family living next door.”  When you think of it this way it soon becomes clear that “the only way we can love our neighbor across time is to leave them a decent place to live.” 

In the conclusion to one chapter he says, “Global warming, ozone-layer depletion, and multiple forms of pollution are three massive earth threats.  They assault human life everywhere and jeopardize our entire ecosystem.  However, their impact on today’s world is probably far less adverse than it will be on future generations.”  Parham believes the time to act is now and that “we must view present-day reforms and initiatives as an insurance policy for the future.”

I realize that the concept of loving neighbors across time will be new to many but it makes perfect sense.  If we are going to fulfill what Jesus called “the greatest commandment” then we must take better care of the earth now so that those who come after us will be able to enjoy, benefit and be blessed by it.  Love demands we do no less.


(The image above was taken at Irwin Pond in the Hiwatha National Forest.  The beauty of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan must definitely be preserved for future generations!)

Jun 6 2010

Hurry Sickness

Center Creek“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

In Sunday School this morning we talked about “hurry sickness.”  This isn’t a disease you hear much about today but it is both serious and incredibly prevalent.  Hurry sickness is the condition of always being in a hurry.  It comes from getting caught up in this fast paced world we live in.  Hurry sickness drains our physical energy, causes us to be irritable, and does considerable damage to our relationships (we end up being too busy or tired to give ourselves completely to those we love).  Hurry sickness can be deadly!

The antidote for hurry sickness is slowing down.  Somehow, someway, we have got to learn to slow down.  The book we’re studying suggested that one way we can do this is by practicing solitude.  We all need time away from the rat race.  This can be done in small intervals each day.  Hopefully we can also find a way to practice extended times of solitude on a weekly or monthly basis. 

I think many people would benefit from spending time alone in God’s Creation.  As a general rule, the pace of things seems so much slower in nature.  The plants and animals we see there do not tend to get in a hurry.  Here God’s Creation can serve as our teacher.

Yesterday I took my friend, Steve Ausmus, over to Breaks Interstate Park.  We hiked in the Center Creek area.  After walking a while we both made our way down to the river.  Soon we separated and both of us found rocks to sit on.  This gave us each a chance to experience a bit of solitude in a very beautiful location.  Personally, I find such experiences most refreshing and satisfying to the soul. 

Periodically Jesus would call his disciples to “come apart” for a while.  He realized that his followers did not always need to be busy or doing something.  Things have changed a lot since that time.  Our lives are busier and more hectic than ever.  The need to “come apart” and slow down, however, has not changed.    As a wise person once noted, “if we don’t ‘come apart’ we will come apart.”  If you are suffering from hurry sickness, this would be a great time for you to find some solitude in God’ healing Creation.


(The image above was taken yesterday at Breaks Interstate Park in Kentucky.)