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Friday, January 17, 2014

A Time to Speak

Other than a video study I led more than 20 years ago, I’ve not formally addressed abortion in my ministry that I can remember. I never intended for it to take this long. I can now say that part of the reason was the sin of cowardice. That’s not to say that I didn’t have some legitimate concerns. I didn’t feel I knew enough. In most cases I thought I would more often be speaking to people grieved over their own experience with abortion, rather than speaking to strong supporters of it. Out of the danger of being accused of only being known for what I was against rather than what I was for, I stayed quiet.

This year I met a husband and wife who were the most passionate opponents of abortion I have ever met. After a visit to our church, I went to their home to talk with them. Within seconds the husband of this couple was shaking and in tears as he told me of his incredulity that every believer did not see what was so plainly obvious to him. They attended one more Sunday and I haven’t seen them since. (Somehow they heard that I preached on this subject and since then they've been attending regularly.) Perhaps you would find their position extreme but they got my attention. I believe there is a place for public protests and I think we should always be willing to ask ourselves how God is calling us to address worldwide tragedies such as abortion, human trafficking, world hunger, and the like. However, I don’t think that we tend to bring about change by shouting at people through protest, but rather by getting up close.

Several years ago I was surprised to learn that a friend of mine was pro-choice. We had been friends for a few years and had spent a lot of time together. When the subject came up, I expressed what I believed to be the only position possible for someone who took the Bible seriously. It’s important to note that this conversation happened in the context of a friendship. I didn’t think much more about it, so I was surprised when several years later he told me that I was the one who had influenced him to move from being pro-choice to pro-life.

While we keep asking ourselves hard questions about how to be informed and what we must do to influence public policy, we need to remember that we will often influence more through relationships than through other means. I’m convinced that a major part of the answer to how God’s people respond to abortion is that that we more passionately pursue functioning as the church. As we worship, evangelize, disciple, and welcome people into our lives and churches, we function as salt and light in the world. That must lead to lifestyles that show we care about people and the circumstances they face by befriending individuals and supporting ministries that care for unwed mothers.

So Sunday I will wade in, very, very late to the conversation. I am grieved over my past silence. The only thing I can do is to begin now. You can see the scripture, outline, and discussion questions for the message here.

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