taking the words of Jesus seriously

In my city, any many others, there are occasional small clusters of earnest people outside Planned Parenthood offices. They hold garish signs of bloody fetuses and they sometimes chant or sing. Sometimes they are silent.

But whatever they do, a pallor hangs over them.

In their gatherings there is no reflection of compassion, joy or holiness.

And it’s too bad.

I want there to be a resonant, restorative refuge for these women – and sometimes families – in crisis. In short, I want to see someone act as Jesus would.

What would Jesus do in this situation?

I am convinced that Jesus would be compassionate and probably tearful as he stood alongside each woman in crisis.

His actions would be calming and healing. He would take each woman’s hand, hear her story, help her clear her mind, strengthen and equip her for difficult decisions and their consequences.

He would certainly NOT, with His signs and slogans, make these poor women feel worse – more guilty and victimized.

The question I always ask myself, in any moral situation, is “Whose side am I on?”

Am I on the side of holiness, healing and restoration?

Or am I on the side of the many nameless mobs of history (and certainly the New Testament) who eagerly condemn and accuse?

To condemn others for sins that do not tempt us is the ultimate cowardice and hypocrisy.

To act as Jesus did take courage and compassion. The scent of holiness comes from moving as Jesus would.

Among these banners and slogans I see no door of opportunity, no restoration to family and community, no path to forgiveness. In fact it’s worse than this – I see more coldness – more blame and condemnation when the poor woman is already burdened to the point of desperation.

How dare we add to her burden?

Isn’t it blindingly obvious that we should be bearers of good news – in fact, the ultimate Good News?

God’s good news is what we always need, and our calling to be ambassadors of this good news is literally glorious and always challenging.

We may be called to look, or even move beyond our own preferences and agendas.

C.S. Lewis observed that God loves us the way we are, but too much to leave us that way. None of us is finished.

God’s good news is not provisional – but our understanding of it is.

Can you imagine how different our portrayal of the Gospel would be if we considered Sin as an indescribable presence that seeps in and around all of us and we, as individuals, are impacted directly and salvation and restoration is personal, immediate and tangible?

For Jesus, the Gospel is no abstraction. Instead of handing out, or certainly enforcing the Law, Jesus reaches out, literally touching and healing those who seek him.

The Bible, and human history, show us a smattering, a slating if you will, of people like this; people who live and move within the will of God.

There’s a winsomeness there that transcends denominations, theology and politics – a winsomeness that even those who don’t want to believe cannot resist.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I rarely, if ever, change my behavior because I am shamed or made guilty – especially by those who would judge me – while they promote their own self- righteousness.

Their evil eye does nothing besides build my determination. If we want to challenge or change someone’s behavior, we must come beside them, put away our smug distance and allow – even encourage – freedom and adult responsibility.

I have friends who stand outside these places with their banners and slogans. They tell me they are taking a stand.  Those passing by just might wonder what they are taking a stand for. I can’t imagine what these people think they are accomplishing.

Few things are more difficult than mutual respect in a time of crisis. Connecting with people in need takes courage, and pathetically few people show it. I expect Christians to live out this kind of courage – since Jesus shows it so clearly and consistently.

Everything about the abortion discussion makes me mourn. It could be the epicenter of restoration, but instead, we wrangle and argue our way into shrill incoherence. We show the world, God, and maybe even ourselves how much we all need restoration. And maybe that’s a good thing.

—-
Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.

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About The Author

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Faith is not a formula.
And I wouldn’t even use the word ‘relationship’ – and probably not the metaphor of ‘a journey’.
The older I get, the more it seems that faith is a process – a determined focus on listening to the eternal, sifting out the noise and distractions and becoming closer with each breath and each word, to the fullness – and emptiness – of the pulse, hand and purpose of our Creator, which, ultimately brings us where we belong.
I’m a teacher and writer, which really means that I am a listener and I share what I see and hear.

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