Summary: What would relationships in our church look like if we truly loved each other? Since God loves us unconditionally, we can and must love each other, including those affected by abortion.
January 19, 2003
Sanctity of Life Sunday
Love One Another
Do you remember what you were doing 30 years ago? Let me see if I can refresh your memory. Notre Dame topped the college football rankings with a perfect 11-0 season. The “Sting” took home the best picture Oscar and “The Walton’s” swept five Emmy categories. The average American household earned $10,500, the minimum wage was $1.60, and a first-class stamp cost 8 cents.
A few of you were contemplating retirement.
Some of you were just getting started in your first job.
Or maybe you had just started college.
I was 13 with a face filled with acne and an appetite for adventure.
Beth was a cute ten-year-old dreaming of her Prince Charming from the Dairy State.
Some of you were tiny toddlers.
Unbelievably, many of you were not even born!
And, about 40 million people have never been born because of a Supreme Court Decision that was handed down 30 years ago this month that has tragically altered the moral, medical and legal landscape of our nation. President George Bush, following the tradition of Presidents Reagan and Bush, has declared today to be “Sanctity of Human Life Day” and has urged Americans to “reaffirm our commitment to respecting the life and dignity of every human being…Every child is a priority and a blessing, and I believe that all should be welcomed in life and protected by law.”
Let me say at the beginning that I’m always a bit hesitant to deliver a sermon like this. Not because I’m not convinced of what the Bible teaches but because most Americans already have an opinion about abortion or they don’t want to hear about it. I recognize that the unity we focused on last week is in danger of unraveling because of the volatility of this issue. I’m also cognizant of the fact that some women here today are living with the shame and guilt associated with abortion. While I’m committed to teach truth this morning, I also want to make sure you are given grace.
Some pastors have chosen, for various reasons, to remain silent on this topic or to even approve abortion. I don’t see either as an option this morning. Where God has spoken, I must speak. My goal is not to be politically correct but to be biblically correct. I’m compelled and constrained to communicate God’s heart as clearly as I can, with as much love as I can. Proverbs 14:25 summarizes my purpose and my hope: “A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful.”
This past Wednesday, Jeff and I hosted the Pontiac Area Ministerial Association’s monthly meeting. Because it was held at our church I had the privilege of opening the meeting with a devotional. Because I feel so strongly about the sacredness of life, I decided to speak about this issue. Let me be quick to add that I didn’t really want to do this because I wasn’t sure of where the other pastors stood. And yet, I sensed the Spirit nudging me to move forward. I opened with this startling finding from the most recent issue of U.S. News and World Report: “Abortion has become one of the most common surgical procedures in the nation, so common that should the current rate continue, about 35% of all U.S. women will have an abortion in their lifetimes” (Roger Simon, 1/20/03, page 24).
I then said that if we don’t speak up, who would? If the churches are silent, other voices will move to fill in the vacuum. Next I read Proverbs 24:11-12, mentioning that this passage provides a challenge to me both personally and pastorally: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay each person according to what He has done?” I concluded by stating that while abortion has become a political issue, it is really a spiritual and moral concern that must be addressed from our pulpits.
After the meeting a pastor came up to me and said that he’s always been afraid to tackle the topic in his preaching because of where his denomination stands on the issue. He asked me to pray for him to have the courage to speak boldly today. Another pastor called me late last week with a resource that he thought I might be interested in. It’s my prayer that all the churches in this community would speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. And many churches are doing that already.
Pope John Paul II has referred to the aftermath of abortion as the “culture of death.” I’d like to suggest this morning that the exalted lordship of Christ leads to expressions of love and to an ethic of life. To say it another way, when we understand how much God loves us we will be moved to love others and to lift up every life that He has created. Please turn in your Bibles to 1 John 4:7-12. Before we read this, keep in mind that John is known as the “apostle of love” and that he was writing to a group of believers who were embroiled in controversy and struggling with the temptation to compromise.