I am so thankful for you. For all of the work that you do, the lives that you come alongside, and the organizations that you pioneer to create change. For the women's clinics, the homeless shelters, the soup kitchens, the foster parents, the disability advocates. For each person that has worshiped not only with their lips but with their lives.
Last week I finished an article on abortion. It was hard to write, mostly because I felt a pull in two different directions. I felt an overriding conviction to be a voice for the ones that don't have the opportunity to speak for themselves, but I also felt a compelling heartache over the way that we have failed as the Church.
I think we can all come to the conclusion that humans are human, the Church is imperfect, we can't do it all, etc. But I also feel like there's this lingering neglect that we just sort of happily fall into. I say this because I think I've unfortunately practiced it.
Just today, I came across a story of a woman who was fostering a young baby. The picture showed her standing, holding the little one close to her, a pink blanket covering the baby's small frame. In her caption, she so beautifully said in so many words that what the picture didn't show, was the twelve other people in the room, praying over that child's life, the living and breathing hope of the Gospel being poured out over the war that this little one's life was. She talked about the irony of some of her friends from Church saying, "I could never do that." "I would get too attached." "It would break my heart."
Arriving at the last period of that sentence, I buried my face in my hands. I'm pretty sure I've said at least one of those things in reference to adoption.
She then said so plainly, "Isn't that the point?"
Isn't the point that we literally can't do it? That we need Jesus' grace over everything, especially when we are called to be, to do, and to care for the ones that have been forgotten in society? Are we not called to pull out of the abundance the He provides and not our own? That we are to have a heart to not only go to Church, and read our Bibles, and meet for fellowship, and fight for ethical means, but to be light in the world and take on the responsibility to care for the widows, to adopt the fatherless, and to love our enemies?
When I was writing about abortion, although there was a simple and compiled answer to my stance, I've come to know that people's lives can't be separated into perfect black and white decision trees with a moral filter button so conveniently available for pushing to complete a topic.
And so, before we launch our moral flag to the top of the flagpole and preach our words of ethics, Jesus calls us to be acting with relentless compassion to all, pairing our empathy and care for little ones with real, felt, meaningful action and compassion toward the hurting women as well.
We have to sit and actually think about what we are doing with life. Is our life one big bubble of Christianity? Are we stepping into the hard things? Challenging the norm? Are we visiting orphans and widows in their affliction?
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" James 1: 27
We have to realize that our life is made up of decisions, passive or active. We could continue to educate ourselves, read books, create beautiful theological sound minds, and talk back and forth the issues of today. And we could actually do all of that without actually stepping into people's lives and asking if we could help carry their burdens, ask them if we could introduce them to the One that carries ours. We could go an entire ten years before discipling one person, or sharing the Gospel once, or talking to a homeless person.
Essentially, Jesus calls us to not only have the right view on things but to couple those thoughts with action.
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." James 1:22-25
Abortion is wrong, but this does not give us reason to neglect to care for women with full consideration and heartfelt sincerity. Our role as the Church is to step into the gaps, to be vulnerable with our own faults, and then make known the hope that we've found. It's our job to work to help make adoption a reality, a really needed friend an actuality, and the counseling and support needed in our political systems and our neighborhoods available so that women, men, and children can be supported by the hands and feet of Jesus.
Jesus' grace is so real, so covering, and so beautiful to reach into the needs of every single last one of us. All of the forgiveness, the grief, and the hurt can be brought so safely to His feet. He will pick up every piece of you and begin mending your blood with his own. I pray that we would use the power and the grace we have been given to walk in His ways.
We are equipped, called, and challenged, friends. I pray that we respond.