Respect for Life: It Begins and Ends With You!
Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources
With every issue of Beginnings we wrestle with what is worthy to serve as the lead story. Often it is some dramatic development that hits the media regarding life issues. The subjects of human cloning, Kevorkian and assisted suicide, legislative developments regarding abortion or some big news concerning the national organization of Christian Life Resources have all been use as lead stories in the past.
The arena of life issues grows almost daily. What were big issues a few years ago seem almost routine and don’t appear very newsworthy today. It was shocking a few years ago that Jack Kevorkian was helping people kill themselves. Today, he has assisted over 100 suicides. Such assistance is legal in one state and being considered in others.
The abortion procedure used to horrify the public. The number of abortions seemed staggering. Then there were the reports of partial-birth abortions. Yet today, any one of those issues would be considered old or at least “routine” news.
Rather than focus on what others are doing wrong it is time that our lead story become what we can do right. Pointing out error is far too easy, is far too routine, and it can be done by anyone. It is the genuine Christian who goes one step further.
We should have figured that out in our confirmation class years. Look at how Martin Luther wrote his meanings to the Commandments. They generally say first what we should not do, and then they say what we should do. The meaning to the Fifth Commandment is most pertinent for us: “We should fear and love god that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and be a friend to him in every bodily need.”
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that when a pro-life group leads with a story about assisted suicide the first implication is that it is wrong. Now, the lead story is that we should do something positive. To that end I offer some practical suggestions:
Begin with Respect
Each of us needs to treasure life not for its quality or value to society, but for its intrinsic or natural value as a creation of God. We need to see in every life a soul for which Jesus suffered and died. If you cannot respect life, you will hardly find the desire to protect life.
Hold True to the Concept of Dignity in Life
Today people often equate dignity with autonomy or control. They talk about “death with dignity” and they really mean wanting to be able to control when death comes so that we can cause it before a desired level of quality diminishes. But that is not dignity.
A dignified life is one that is filled with the quality of faith and is the object of both God’s love and the love of God’s people. Even with the loss of his riches and children, compounded by a body full of sores and boils, Job of the Old Testament had dignity to his life rooted in his faith. When eyes drift off the enduring power of God’s love and onto the fleeting elements of this world, existence is precarious at best. John put it well when he wrote: “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17) Dignity is reinforced when Christians who know God’s unconditional love reflect it. That means loving when it cannot be returned. It means sacrificing without an audience to commend or appreciate it. Ultimately, it is when our lifestyle of love is so consistent that when it is shown to those who are struggling, they are confident of its genuineness. There are no suspicions as to ulterior motives. They are used to seeing you sacrifice and love.
Fight for Life
With crazy zealots shooting at abortionists and bombing clinics it is not very politically correct to talk about “fighting for life.” Yet, the fight for life is not one of flesh and blood but a spiritual battle. It begins not with weapons of death and destruction, but with divine words that define right from wrong and which reveal the perfect standard of love in Christ.
Your fight for life begins with not only the way you talk about life issues among your friends, but by the way you pr-actively seek ways to protect life. Fighting for life means helping others with their life. It means writing letters to the editor of local newspapers when life is endangered by political action or foolish talk. It means demanding of your political representatives a standard of respect for life that reflects your own high standard.
Most importantly, it means sharing your faith through the avenues of opportunity opened for you when you reflect your faith in acts of love. Your Christian faith is what drives you to acts of love and kindness. Don’t hide that faith. In sincerity confess your own struggles n life and testify to the answers you have in Jesus Christ. Through your own eyes let others see the eternal vision of heaven through the forgiveness of sins.
The big news in the life issues arena is not that more killing is taking place. That is true, but sadly routine. The bigger news is the more and more opportunities that present themselves for you to “help and be a friend in every bodily need.” Be pro-active in your fight for life. Stand up for what is right and use every opportunity to share the message of salvation. Such devotion sadly does not produce the headlines so often seen in today’s papers. But rest assured, you will make a far bigger difference in obscurity than any headline grabber today.