Summary: In light of what Scripture says about the heart of God, what should we do?
I want to set a text before us as a point of reference as we approach this subject…
“For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man the many will be made righteous. The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:19-21
Here the apostle Paul describes the great spiritual reality in which we live; that there are two realms or powers at work in this world - the power of sin and the power of grace. > AND THE POWER OF GRACE IS GREATER.
I believe this is a pivotal truth for each of our hearts as we continue in our series entitled “Holding out Hope in a Wounded World” and especially as we return to the subject of the SANCTITY OF THE WOMB.
Last week we looked at THE QUESTION OF LIFE, seeing that God’s Word clearly declares, that life begins at conception…as modern technology increasingly confirms; also that God’s image is inherently bestowed upon such life, establishing the sacredness of the human life as endowed rather than achieved.
Now we turn to the QUESTION OF RESPONSE.
Can we forge a positive response in light of the polarizing politics and personal pain which surround the issue of life in the womb?
Here is where the great truth Paul declared cries out to us…that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. And if I have ever stood with a group of people who can take hold of that truth, I am with them today; a fellowship able to maintain standards while ministering grace. But I know with this particular issue it is difficult to feel we have achieved a balance.
Those who feel a prophetic passion in their convictions regarding the sanctity of life in the womb, often struggle to maintain the grace.
And those who feel a priestly compassion often struggle to maintain their convictions. In speaking with many of you about your response to the issue of abortion, many of you have expressed to me that you feel strongly about upholding the sanctity of life…and believe abortion is wrong, but…
· But the polarizing politics gets to you
· But the personal pain involved in peoples circumstances is hard to know how to respond to.
This morning I want to honor your “but” (that is ‘but’ with one “t”), because I feel it too.
I believe God is calling us to serve as prophets and priests, and I want to share how God has led me and how I believe he would lead us.
The first point relates to our emotional response to the issue of abortion.
I. A call beyond the safety of self-righteousness towards COMPASSIONATE CONVICTION.
There was a time in my life when it was easier for me to find pride in holding the “right” positions…a self-righteousness that hid the failures within myself and also hid me from the abundance of grace at hand. Looking back I see how foolish such self-righteousness is.
Recently the Lord has reminded me of promiscuous failures painfully close even to the horrendous subject at hand. I share that not to suggest any detachment from our moral commitment, nor to encourage any value in changing our standards….but in reckoning with our temptation to self righteousness we must all be reminded, that God has declared “there is none who is righteous.”
I feel more deeply than ever before about the issue of abortion, but I am equally convinced of who we are, neither a completely immoral people, nor a complete righteous people. Rather as Jack Hayford described, we are “failures growing up.”
As the Lord continues to awaken me from the safety of self-righteousness, I want to suggest that this safety and self-righteousness can be just as active on the other side, that is, among our desires for compassion. About 3 years ago the Lord revealed a very clear counter conviction. I had been actively involved in working with women in crisis pregnancy, on the Board of Harvest Home, and oversaw our Pro Life Ministry. Yet I realized that while I was willing to speak out publicly on many other social issues I was involved with, I remained quiet on the one topic that wasn’t politically popular. I was pro-life in my position, but I was proud of remaining an armchair critic of those taking public stands in ways so easily given to criticism. I was safe and self-righteous in my silence.
The Lord was leading me further towards COMPASSIONATE CONVICTION.
He‘s been calling me beyond the false sense of conviction that doesn’t honor the great work of grace and subsequent compassion. And he’s been calling me beyond the false sense of compassion that is simply fear claiming to be humility; of providing silent sympathy when neutrality may prove to be the greatest sin of all.