gods are like opinions: everybody’s got one. Actually, most people have several, even some they’re not aware of (gods, I mean). The small “g” is intentional. I don’t want anyone to confuse the one true God with our fake substitutes.
Your god is anything that overtakes your life and casts an outsized shadow over your heart and mind. You draw security and enjoyment from it. You schedule it and budget for it. You tell yourself it’s good but not great, you can drop it anytime but don’t, you don’t really need it but you have no choice. Truth is, you love it.
So many god addicts aren’t even aware that they’re addicted, and that their little “g” is actually interfering with the big “G.” The real G. The time, the energy, the investment, the commitment that should be directed to God is spent on god.
Here's a few of the temples I have seen. Sound familiar?
For older generations, I would say: show me your calendar and your checkbook and I’ll show you what your gods are. To the younger crowd, show me your online history: there’s your gods. Time + energy + money = god.
The Bible says it’s time to put away your gods. Here’s Joshua 24:14-15: Now fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. …As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua lays it down for himself and his family. Serve. I think we’ve identified Who we serve? But when? How?
Now. Not tomorrow, not after breakfast, now.
Fear the Lord. Fear means respect more than trembling, but a little tremble might help. It also involves anticipating the relief of the Gospel – the good news that Jesus takes the wrath while we get the forgiveness.
Serve Him in sincerity and faithfulness. With integrity and loyalty, not to buy Him off, but treasuring the relationship He has crafted with you by His amazing grace.
Put away the gods…and serve the Lord. Our belief system is a hand-me-down, but an abusive father does not mean we have to be abusive too, nor does an unbelieving mother require us to be unbelievers. To put away is to remove, to cast aside. Whether your gods were inherited or adopted, they are keeping you from your full life in Jesus Christ. That’s the life He designed, purposed and paid for with His own blood. So that you and I can be free. Free to live. Free to serve.
It says serve the Lord a second time. Must be important if He repeats it. Not because His day is ruined or His life incomplete unless we act like slaves; God doesn’t need your good works, but your neighbor does. That’s why Jesus calls us to serve, so that He can work through us on the next one who is fooling with too many gods. God reaches us… (say it with me) with the love that reaches others!
So here’s your chance. We need servants:
Shoot me a message. I’ll help you help.
Jesus is pro life.
And, BOOM, preconceived notions just exploded in your mind! If you’re thinking that Jesus is a Republican, He’s not. He’s not a Democrat either – nor a Socialist, Communist, Capitalist or any other -ist.
If that statement instantly prods you to accuse Jesus of hating women, you’d be wrong again. He loves women more than you do. And men. And children of all shapes and sizes, ages and abilities.
If you think this means that pro-choicers hate Jesus and women who’ve had abortions are automatically going to hell, you are profoundly mistaken on both counts. There are pro-lifers who do not follow Jesus, and there are plenty of pro-choicers who do. Rejecting the Son of God is not based on politics or even morality per se, but on an individual’s conscious decision to slam the door on Christ and His grace and try to deal with sin and death on their own. Their opinions and preferences on these issues are after the fact. Here’s a news flash: sometimes we’re wrong! Even pastors!! (shudder)
And women who’ve had abortions need our prayers, not our prejudices. Some women are publicly celebrating their abortions, which is devastatingly sad for them. Many more women suffer deeply in guilt and regret, with modest and temporary success at repressing those feelings. A lot of women, you just can’t tell. Only Jesus can read their hearts. And He doesn’t lump them all together; neither should we.
We might all be in a better place if we fully understood and embraced what life truly is, according to its Inventor. Certainly such truths won’t mean much to those who don’t know Jesus nor care about His Word, but for the child of God, the Word means everything, and Jesus IS everything. Jesus and His Word should shape and guide every aspect of life since He’s the one who started it all.
So let’s go back to the first line: Jesus is pro life.
Start with Jesus: the real Jesus, according to Jesus. Not the Jesus some false teachers have made up, or the Jesus you and I wish He would be so He fits our preferences. Jesus is God in the flesh (John 1:1-14), and in Him is life. In fact, He is the Author of life (Acts 3:15), the Giver of life (John 5:21), the Bread of life (John 6:35) and the Light of life (John 8:12).
Jesus is so intricately and intimately involved and invested in life as we know it that ultimately we can joyfully proclaim that Jesus IS Life: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies.” (John 11:25); and, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
When I refer to Jesus, I say IS, not was. That’s because Jesus still is the resurrection and the way and the truth and the life. He’s not a dead prophet. He’s not a long-gone historical figure. Jesus died on a Friday and rose to life again on that Sunday, never to die again. He’s the living Savior who Thomas calls, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). By His own promise, kept daily, Jesus is “with you always, to the end of time” (Matthew 28:20). Is, not was.
Now for the pro, as in “in favor” or “supportive of.” Jesus not only creates life, He sustains it and preserves it (Nehemiah 9:6). So valuable and precious is His gift of life, He pays for it – body and soul - with His own blood: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Therefore, life belongs to its Owner, and is defined by its Designer. (Bear in mind, I’m talking about human life). Trying to define “when life begins” is somewhat of a fool’s errand, because we can only work with what we can actually see. Jesus starts the life process even before sperm meets ovum: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5).
Once the Author of life embraces the artistry and craftsmanship of His creative power, He puts His personal touch on every single life that He brings into being:
“For You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works I wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from You
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
Your eyes saw my unformed body.
Whether we call that new human life a zygote or an embryo or a fetus, God calls that new life a person, a baby (Luke 1:41-44). And the Potter is continually working the clay, shaping it into the masterpiece that is you or me. You see, He’s not done yet with any of us. For those who say of the unborn baby, “It’s just a clump of cells,” the answer is, “So are you!”
Science, as usual, backs up the Word that the new life in the womb is human life = a human being: Remember the Law of Biogenesis that you learned in sophomore biology class? It says that (1) Life only comes from life, and (2) Kinds produce like kinds. In other words, a human being outside of the womb has to come from a living human being inside the womb...Human beings reproduce human beings. Second, scientists who study embryos have made it pretty clear: “The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception.” Science has spoken: The unborn are fully human! https://files.lcms.org/file/preview/glt8Rg49nJZGEh8kn899FLlzz5WIFdI0
Incidentally, for those who try to misuse the Bible to dehumanize unborn babies, please know that they have no clue what they’re talking about. They may attempt to quote Genesis 2:7 – God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Understand that this is descriptive, not prescriptive, which means that God is simply describing in simple terms how God created the first life.
But the distorted argument tries to say that since unborn babies cannot breathe, God doesn’t consider them human, as though breath is the sole determinant of life’s value (anyone on oxygen: you’re in trouble). They fail to explain, though, how God also says that life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11, et al). And don’t we check for breathing and heartbeat (blood flow) to affirm if someone is alive?
Furthermore, babies in the womb have the breath of life, oxygen, from their mothers, even if their own lungs are under construction, along with the rest of their humanity, including blood and a brain. Pulling one verse out of context and twisting it to satisfy you own desires is what the devil tried with Jesus. God hates that. Let me put this gently: theologically speaking, those people are morons; stay away from them.
So serious is Jesus about His gift of life that He even dedicates a Commandment to it: You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13), which by definition means terminating the life of another human being. We have no right to do so.
Now we can debate about special circumstances like the threat of death to the mother, or conception by rape or incest. The Church has long held that in the former, as painful as that decision might be, God will understand if one life needs to be taken to save another. Around 700 women die each year of pregnancy-related causes (about 1% of births), and the CDC estimates that 60% of those could have been prevented. Just as Jesus calls us to care for the widow and the orphan (Deuteronomy 10:18), we should do everything in our power to save two lives (or more) in every pregnancy. Love them both.
As for instances of sexual assault, I cannot fathom what a victimized young woman is feeling, whose choices were ripped away from her, and I respect any secular law written that offers that exemption. As much as I have counseled and taught that the circumstances of the conception are never the baby’s fault, I will never hammer the hurting in a catastrophic situation they did not invite upon themselves. Rape or incest may only account for about 1.5% of all pregnancies, but I believe love is better than law for those women.
Coming back to the commandment, based on the full counsel of God, “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his (her) body, but help and support him (her) in every physical need.” (Luther’s Small Catechism, 5th Commandment). This applies to mother and child. This is also why we support ministries like Vida in Appleton, along with other caring agencies, along with other in-house resources we can use to bless young women in need.
That’s what Jesus means when He’s talking about being pro life: love them both, all life long. He doesn’t tell us how the government should use tax dollars, so that’s up to them, but if the government wants to join us in helping and supporting life, I’m all for it. But if they want to pay for abortions, I’m totally against it.
“That’s all fine, pastor, but not everyone believes that.” Obviously. I can’t make anybody believe in or follow Jesus. But for those of us who do, Jesus issues a warning and a challenge: “If anyone causes one of these little ones of mine to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6). It seems to me that telling a young woman that her unborn baby isn’t a baby and it’s OK to get rid of it would be causing her to sin. This is why I can never vote for someone who repeats or endorses that lie.
The challenge: “Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4). The Psalmist is calling on God to do that; guess who God chooses to help make it happen?
Jesus is, most definitely, pro life. Love them both.
Pastor Steve Kline was installed as Senior Pastor at SHLC on May 25, 2014, after serving 12 years as Senior Pastor at Zion in Wayside, WI. He was ordained in 1992 and previously served congregations in Pulaski and Hales Corners.