One critical element largely missing from the environmental movement is trust in the power of God's hope filled, life-changing, and world-transforming presence in Jesus.
One critical element largely missing from the sphere of Western religion is care and concern for the environment and the many diverse forms of life we share this earth with.
The hope is that through this bestlife.community network together we will tap into a larger work that God is doing through people all over the world.
The vision and the goal in all of this is PEACE. Peace within the human family and peace between the human family and all other forms of life that call this good earth home. The path to peace is to partner with God in this work; to live rooted in relationship with God and to follow the example of Jesus; embodying his servant heart in the ways we relate to all that has life and taking special care to include those who are most vulnerable, rejected, and forgotten as he did.
What is bestlife.community? bestlife.community is a diverse community of people rooted in relationship with God living into community with all that has life in Jesus' name.
What is meant by "all that has life"?
Let me clarify that with a story that Jesus told from Luke 10:30-37. This is the story that is commonly known as "The Parable of the Good Samaritan" (I am going to paraphrase a bit here).
Upon confirming that the most important rule is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves, a man asks Jesus, "and who is my neighbor?"
Jesus goes on to say that a man who was traveling along the road was attacked by bandits, beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Then a priest and a temple assistant from this man's own community walked past, saw him laying there, but walked on by doing nothing to help. Then an individual who came from a community of people that were despised by his own community was traveling along that same road; and when he saw the man lying half-dead on the side of the road, he had compassion on him. The man who was an enemy to the injured man due to community affiliation stooped down, bandaged the man's wounds, and took him to an inn where he could be taken care of and nursed back to good health.
Upon finishing this story Jesus asks his listener, "which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?"
Jesus' listener replied, "The one who showed him mercy."
Jesus articulates at least two points with this story.
First, Jesus shows us what love can look like with his story of one person selflessly giving to help another who may not be able to pay him back.
Second, Jesus' listener would have expected the hero in the story to be someone who was part of the same community group as the injured man. Instead Jesus makes the member of the despised rival community the hero in the story. This was an unexpected twist and Jesus does it to challenge the boundaries that we place on community life- of who's in and who's out.
In Jesus' own ministry he included those who were excluded by the community that he was part of. As a member of the Jewish faith tradition he included despised Samaritans. As a man, he included women. As someone who was 'ceremonially clean' due to his good health he included the lame, the blind, the deaf, lepers, the sick, the injured, and the sinful; all of whom would have been considered 'unclean.'
Jesus expanded the bounds of community so much that it seems he placed no limits. Jesus lived a life of inclusion to the fullest during his life and ministry.
In his death and resurrection it is said in the book that is called Colossians that "the fullness of God was pleased to live in Jesus Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to God's self. God made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross."
Jesus is a servant. That much is consistent. And in this text it is articulated that Jesus gives himself as a servant not just to human life, but to all that has life.
Furthermore, the grand vision of a world totally at peace found in Revelation chapters 21-22 is inclusive of all that has life.
Getting back to Jesus telling of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, recall that one of Jesus' points is to challenge his disciples to expand the limits that they place upon community. When a bird, an amphibian, or even a whole forest becomes a recipient of my loving-kindness I have become a neighbor to each of these. It seems to me that the most faithful way to translate this text to today's world is to respond by working to expand the limits we place on community until there are none.
Hence the pathway to peace: to live rooted in relationship with God and to live into community with all that has life, in Jesus' name.
As we live life rooted in relationship with God, may the Spirit of God change our hearts inspiring within us a sense of concern, compassion, and love for all that has life; and may this inward transformation translate to outward changes in living; and may the limits we place upon community continually expand until there are none.
Peace is the vision.
Love and community is the goal.
Jesus is the way.
Love God. Love others. Live into community with all that has life.