Author: Craig Hardinger
[An open letter to Christian leaders]
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more
I love that line.
Wiping away tears is the ultimate result of Jesus making all things new (Revelation 21:5).
It was also the basic action of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Think about it. Every miracle he performed was with the intent to show he had the power to wipe away tears.
It seems to me that his church should be engaged in the same kind of ministry – wiping tears.
One of the joys I have as a pastor is to partner with Arcade brothers and sisters in Christ who aggressively seek viable solutions to issues that fall under the umbrella of social justice. Racism, poverty, sex-trafficking and any form of marginalization or social evil work as tear-creators. It is our mission as followers of Jesus to be his tear-wipers.
The ministry of tear-wiping is seen more and more in the church today as Christians are, in Jesus-like manner, rolling up their sleeves and engaging in many forms of social justice. The smile of our heavenly Father is upon such people as they wade knee deep in the muck and mire of poverty, hunger, racial reconciliation, immigration and the like.
However, there is a glaring omission in the short list above - abortion.
Just as there is an increase of pastors and leaders engaged in the social justice of the living, there appears to be a corresponding decrease of leaders who are engaged in the social justice of the dying.
It begs the question, “Why?”
Why is it that pastors/leaders, in one sense, have placed themselves on the front lines of many social justice battles only to go AWOL in others?
I’ve asked around and below are a few responses on why leaders have abandoned or softened their stance in regards to abortion.
- Lightning rod president.
As of today, the president has positioned himself as being pro-life. Because his popularity has drastically diminished, many wish to distance themselves from anything that he endorses. I get it, but here’s the thing: the president didn’t launch the pro-life movement nor should he be the sole voice in support of it. At the risk of sounding snippy – get over it.
Americans! Your lambs are dying!
- It’s not pro-life. It’s pro-birth.
This is usually stated in the form of an accusation and is based on the assumption that pro-life advocates are only concerned with the birth of the baby and not the life of the child after birth. The accusation further asserts that many aborted babies would have lived in abject poverty and oppression. It is, therefore, a “kindness” to abort them in order to avoid certain suffering in life. I find it hard to believe that a societal problem can ever be solved by killing members of that society. Crazy idea: Let the babies live!
Leaders! Your lambs are dying!
- Bigger issues. More attention.
Existing issues like racism, poverty or immigration are seen as more immediate and therefore more crucial. At the risk of unintentionally minimizing the above issues, are you kidding me? Leader! Lead! I am not asking you to neglect the causes that face our society. Speak loudly and often about the injustices facing the people in your community. People are crying and you have been placed strategically by a sovereign God to wipe away tears. I am asking you to stand for social justice involving all citizens – especially the weak and powerless. You can’t get any more weak and powerless than the unborn.
Community leaders! Your lambs are dying!
- The pro-life cause is not trending.
I don’t even know what to say about this one. Moving on.
Millennials! Your lambs are dying!
- The pain of guilt.
It is so true – talking about the evils of abortion can pile burden upon burden of guilt on any woman who has had an abortion and the connected families affected. Insensitive preaching/teaching can add tears, not wipe them away. No pastor who loves his flock wants to do that. In such moments when the tears of guilt flow, the gospel of mercy, grace and forgiveness must shine.
Preachers! Your lambs are dying!
- The sanctity of ALL human life.
This is a subtle way for leaders to exit the conversation/debate about abortion. A typical statement might be, “Rather than focus on one group of marginalized people, every life matters.” Great! Bully for you! Should we not start with those in our community who have zero voice and are, while alive, being dismembered, scalded or left to expire - alone on a table? Seriously?
Christ followers! Your lambs are dying!
- Pro-choice and in the closet.
I think we would all be surprised at how many pastors and Christian leaders are silent advocates of the pro-choice movement. If that’s you – do us all a favor – quit. Sell insurance. Sell cars. Shoot! Sell essential oils. Don’t preach.
Shepherds! Your lambs are dying!
Fellow followers of Christ, we’re not picking out carpet color here nor debating the sequence of events surrounding the end times. If our ministry on this planet is one of tear-wiping, the issue of abortion and the many lives affected by each abortion (60 million and counting) must be at the front of nearly every discussion regarding social justice. And yet the steam of the movement has been lost to the point where there is barely a mention from many Christian leaders.
Is not our mission to provide a taste of what heaven will be? Is it not to engage in those issues that drew Jesus’ attention? We must identify all of them, call them what they are, shine a light in the darkness – all the while wiping tears. The tears of the unborn. The tears of young women who believed the lie that somehow their life would be better because of an abortion. The tears of entire communities/neighborhoods decimated by strategically-placed abortion clinics. The tears of would-be grandparents. The tears of couples waiting to adopt, longing for that child.
What am I suggesting we do? To be honest – I don’t think I do enough. But in truth, anything is better than nothing.
HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS
- Preach the gospel of life often
- Encourage and embrace foster care and adoption
- Church leaders: train and prepare teachers, child-care workers, ushers and greeters to specifically welcome children with disabilities whose parents chose life.
- Strategically mention the pro-life cause throughout the year
- Support Alternatives Pregnancy Center or other pro-life ministries
- Social Media carries weight. Post!
He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.