It’s everywhere in society nowadays, thanks to the emergence of the “Black Lives Matter” campaign. It’s been countered among the police force of America with “Blue Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter.” Now this slogan is cause for accusations of hypocrisy, as those in favor of accepting Syrian refugees wonder why it looks like others contradict that axiom by wanting them kept out. Cutting through all the controversy, of course, it’s absolutely true. All lives matter! No one piece of the demographical pie is more – or LESS - valuable to God than another, nor should it be to us, his people.
But do we carry the implication of “All Lives Matter” far enough? Do we truly love and treasure all lives? I think if we call ourselves Christians, or followers of Christ, then we want to answer with a resounding “Yes!” So let us put that sentiment to the test.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
The Apostle Paul wrote these words to a people who lived in a society much like ours. Their Christian values were highly unpopular in their land, where Roman rule and influence made it risky to be a follower of Jesus, and where values of God’s people were trampled upon by man’s enlightenment and license to do whatever felt good. Lives weren’t valued. Sense of community was threatened. Honoring God over man, especially those in power, carried potentially lethal consequences.
Read his words to Roman Christians and apply them to us now.
“Love must be sincere.” Sincerity leads to action. It leads to “hating evil” and, conversely, “clinging to what is good.” What do we do when we hate something? Do we allow it? No! We only hate things that threaten that which we love. If we truly value something, and love it, then we must hate and directly oppose whatever is evil, that threatens it. In so doing, we cling to what is good. “Clinging” is what an overboard sailor does when the storm has sunk his vessel, and all he has left to keep him from drowning is a life ring bobbing in the waves. He clings to it.
For many of the years since 1973, America’s value of life in general, especially the lives of the precious unborn, has slipped away into the deep, dark waves of evil. In present day America, we watch a tally of abortions keep climbing past 57 million. Are we clinging to life? To every life? If we love and cherish the lives of the unborn, as we’d surely say we do if a microphone was put in front of us, then why are they slipping away?
Verse 10 helps us ask “Are we devoted to each other?” It asks “Do we value each other above ourselves?” Devotion is another mark of sincerity. Lest we fail to remember that the unborn child is a person just like you or I, King David reminded us in Psalm 139:13: “For you [God] created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
If we would all agree that honoring others above ourselves includes honoring the lives of those who cannot act for themselves, then what causes us to shrink back from acting upon that devotion to life? Personal comfort zones, busy schedules, fear of conflict, or believing the lie that one person’s efforts aren’t enough… These can be some of the culprits.
Remember that sailor clinging to his life ring, bobbing away in that vast sea, his vessel broken to pieces by the storm and sinking into the depths. He knows he may very well not make it til tomorrow. The sea is vast, and sharks may already be circling his kicking feet. Does he let go because his brain could calculate little chance of success? Would you let go?
Verse 11 pleads with us to never lose our zeal, and to keep our spiritual fervor. How zealous are we for this cause of saving lives that matter to the Lord? How hot do the fires of our spiritual fervor burn for the lives Jesus loves? Maybe if we’re unsure how our fervor stacks up, we need only think of the things in life we know we’re passionate about.
My favorite football team… My career… Providing care for my children, and being a great parent… My education… Deer hunting… Fishing… Traveling, gardening, or whatever hobbies I’ve earned the time to enjoy in retirement, after years of toil?
What would happen if we transferred the passion and fervor we have for those things in our personal lives, to the many things that are on the heart of our God. It’s not a question of whether the Lord approves of what I value in my life, it’s a question of what else outside of my little world God may also be calling me to value and defend (see Matthew 25:37-40).
I believe these verses in Romans 12 provide a great, sobering self-check, and a call to action. If we consider ourselves loving, but these verses don’t really describe us, or don’t describe our love for others, such as these millions of unborn children, then maybe we’re lacking in love.
Remember 1 Corinthians 13:1-3? Speaking in tongues of men and angels, gifts of prophecy, the intelligence to fathom all mysteries, even the very faith to move mountains, and charity and self sacrifice….they all mean nothing if not founded in love.
Without love we are nothing.
The awesome news is that God yearns to grant us every piece of his heart that we ask for in Jesus’ name! May God move our hearts to cling to the lives of the unborn, who need us to act in fervor and devotion on their behalf. May he give us the fortitude and zeal to take our love to the next level and bring it into action for his beloved children, whom he wants to gather into his arms.
Cling to life with me, brothers and sisters!
Author: Jeff Ulrich
Jeff is a husband, father, and graduate school student. He attends Hope Lutheran in Oconomowoc. Jeff’s background in ministry education and future in the counseling field reflect a heart that loves to serve others and make a difference. He shares his personal or spiritual reflections in his own time at www.missionpossiblejeffulrich.blogspot.com
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