Recently I read the following from a book of advent devotions:
“I feel so strongly that among those of us who have grown up in church and who can recite the great doctrines of our faith in our sleep and yet who can yawn through the Apostles’ Creed—among us something must be done to help us once more feel the awe, the fear, the astonishment, the wonder of the Son of God, begotten by the Father from all eternity, reflecting all the glory of God being the very image of his person, through whom all things were created, upholding the universe by the word of his power….
”How dead we are! How callous and unfeeling to your glory and your story, O God!”
–John Piper, Good News of Great Joy
How the words stung my soul, calling me to repentance. How much time do I spend thinking about what I believe or why I believe it? God’s Word--God Himself--can grow common, distant, and cold in our minds when we fail to see His glory on a daily basis. When we fail to recognize Him in the daily grind of our lives. Lip service only. No committed heart. Our culture easily euthanizes us, deadening our passions by glaringly pointing to ourselves as the answer. Our need to self-change. Our motivations. Our thought processes. Not Jesus Christ.
“ How dead we are! How callous and unfeeling to your glory and your story, O God! ”
By forgetting, we distance ourselves. Thank God, He never actually leaves us. We just put Him out of our minds. What happens when we remember? The scripture that John Piper used in the devotional was John 20:30-31: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Yes. Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, left the glory of his heavenly home to come here to a world full of hateful, self-absorbed sinners so that the very same could have life by believing in Him! That belief should spur every one of us who believe it, into action every day—for Christ. We should be instruments of His love, including how we view those around us as well as how we view what is happening around us. We should be living vessels of mercy and justice, reflecting the mercy and justice we have received at the feet of Christ.
I have been intrigued by what I have read about Abraham Lincoln, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King, Jr., all who took a stand for justice and against the evil around them. Each of them gave their lives to the cause. I cannot help but think of the evil of abortion existing in our country today. After 49 years of legalized abortion, 62 million American unborn babies have been burned, pulled apart, or poisoned in what should be their safest haven—their mothers’ wombs.
“ We should be living vessels of mercy and justice, reflecting the mercy and justice we have received at the feet of Christ. ”
In the beginning, we didn’t know (scientifically) how much they felt as they were killed. But the advancements of ultrasound technology have enlightened us all. We know for certain. The pain is real. Their lives are being horrifically snuffed out at a rate that surpasses any previous holocausts, wars, or pandemics—before they could ever experience the light of day. We will never know who they were, who they would have become. Our culture regards them as nothing, yet is tragically diminished by their absence.
Thank God for the many Christian men and women who have recognized the evil of abortion, the injustice to such a vulnerable group of children, and who have in the name of Jesus actively fought in so many various ways to end this reign of terror, to protect the innocent lives. Thank God for those who have preached the truth about God creating every person in His image, and truth about the responsibilities of a mother and father in nurturing and raising a family.
Recently, hopes have been raised that the end of Roe v. Wade may be in sight. On December 1 the Supreme Court heard the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the most significant case in decades. Although it will be several months before we know the court’s ruling, at best it will give back to each state the right to make their own laws regarding abortion. While that is a step in the right direction, the battle will not be over. Still, we should not cease to pray for the court as they decide the case. God knows and has already determined both the beginning and the end; and as He always has, He will continue to use His people to show His love, mercy, and justice.
“ God knows and has already determined both the beginning and the end; and as He always has, He will continue to use His people to show His love, mercy, and justice. ”
Abraham Lincoln saw the injustice of slavery and determined to end it in a nation that proclaimed “liberty and justice for all.” He once used this illustration in a speech, explaining why slavery should not expand into new territories: “If I saw a venomous snake crawling in the road, any man would say I might seize the nearest stick and kill it; but if I found that snake in bed with my children, that would be another question. I might hurt the children more than the snake, and it might bite them.
“But if there was a bed newly made up, to which the children were to be taken, and it was proposed to take a batch of young snakes and put them there with them, I take it no man would say there was any question how I ought to decide.”
Marvin Olasky of World Magazine, makes the following analogy based on these words from Lincoln: “The slogans of the political left [claiming that abortion is morally acceptable] are now in bed with our children, and older Christians need to battle those snakes with compassion rather than contempt.”
Considering that many Christians have in the past been drawn to make the wrong choice, and later, after the blinders fell off, repented of it (myself included), we have to realize the many variations of human need that abortion has created. Not just the victims, but also the participants, the providers, the lawmakers, and the ones who profit by it. The mandate for believers remains: love, mercy and justice.
Silence is not an option for believers. As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
Neither is procrastination an option. King also said, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late.”
“ God will give us all the strength we need to help us to resist in all time of distress. But he never gives it in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not on him alone. ”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer who stood fast against the rise of Nazism in Germany and the complacency of the German church, would have agreed that the time for action is always now. He wrote in Stand Fast, “I believe that God will give us all the strength we need to help us to resist in all time of distress. But he never gives it in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not on him alone. A faith such as this should allay all our fears for the future.”
Bonhoeffer also warns about our attitude toward those who disagree with us. “There is a very real danger of our drifting into an attitude of contempt for humanity…The man who despises another will never be able to make anything of him. Nothing that we despise in the other man is entirely absent from ourselves.”
Finally he asks: “Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God.”
“ The saint is not a man who is illuminated by God. He is nothing, through whom God’s power shines to love even the worst of men. ”
We must never forget that we are to live for God’s glory. We are part of His story. We must be ready to suffer and die for Him. All of the men I just quoted were called to die for their beliefs. They were not violent, hateful men. They stood for righteousness and truth. Richard Wurmbrand was another like-minded Christian brother and pastor who was imprisoned in Communist Romania for his faith. He once wrote:
“Cannot God compensate in eternity for suffering endured here for a little while? The saint is not a man who is illuminated by God. He is nothing, through whom God’s power shines to love even the worst of men. Who knows if today’s murderer may not be a future disciple?
“We bless the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, advancing on the path of faith without tormenting ourselves with endless questions about suffering. May we embrace these unanswered questions as we learn to glorify Christ joyfully.”
May we encourage one another to keep and contend for the faith, to remember who we are in Christ, and to stand fast against the evils of our day, particularly abortion. Through love, mercy, and justice. Reflecting Jesus.