“That They Might Have Life”

(The following is an updated and edited version of a post I wrote a few years back.)

We call ourselves pro-life.

We say we believe that every life is precious.

We advocate and debate and share heart-wrenching photos of the unborn on social media.

We are dismayed at the thought of children losing their lives for reasons of social inconvenience.

And rightly so, I believe.

But what about after that baby is born?

Do we still care? Is that life still precious?

Or has that life that was so precious to us before birth now become socially inconvenient–to us.

We pleaded with that mother to save her child’s life–no matter the cost. But now that that child is born and that same mother is buying milk with food stamps, do we still see her child as a precious life worth saving? A mouth worth feeding? Do we see the mother as a life worth saving? Or do we now merely see her as a drain on our resources? A punchline in a Facebook meme.

Is a life only precious to us if it is unborn?

Is it only worth saving if it costs us nothing more than a heated debate on social media?

As churches, we send out missionaries to far-away countries. As individuals, we might send new shoes to orphans for Christmas. In Children’s’ Church, we sing “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight…”

But what about when the people from that country you sent that missionary to step foot on our own soil? What about when they illegally cross our borders? Are those “red, yellow, black, and white” children only precious if they stay on their side of the world?

Are they only precious if they don’t touch us? Are they only worth saving if their parents followed all the rules? Are their parents only worth saving if they are legal?

What if we travel and visit that little orphan boy whom we sent new shoes to and take a selfie with him and tell the world how much we love him…but refuse to investigate the bruise on his cheek or the welts on his legs or why he falls into an exhausted sleep every night on a filthy floor?

Is his life not a life worth speaking up for because now it brings uncomfortable feelings of guilt which get in the way of our warm feelings of generosity?

Where is our pro-life belief then? Where do our pro-life voices go when we are suddenly confronted with a scenario in which an orphan has been given a chance to be born but has had his childhood and future taken from him? We value the lives of the unborn on our own soil enough to defend them, but why not the lives of the born on foreign soil?

We may sing “they are precious in his sight” in Children’s Church, but if we don’t speak up for that little girl who rides the church bus with her haunted eyes and bruised arms—then maybe we don’t really believe what we’re singing.

We may donate a few canned goods at Thanksgiving, but if the half-starved woman in the crumbling house is nothing more than a photo-op to us–then maybe we need to ask ourselves some difficult questions.

If we turn our heads from the helpless and remain silent in defense of the voiceless who are living and breathing outside of the womb—maybe we cannot claim to be pro-life.

If we value the opinions of our peers over the life of a child in distress—maybe we cannot claim to be pro-life.

If we are more afraid of offending powerful humans than we are afraid of offending the all-powerful God who warns us to never offend his little ones—maybe we cannot claim to be pro-life.

If we self-righteously shun the single mother who did not abort, or scream threats and insults at the one who did tragically abort–maybe we cannot claim to be pro-life.

If we complain that the government spends too much of our money feeding the hungry but we personally and individually offer no help ourselves—maybe we cannot claim to be pro-life.

If we picket at an abortion clinic but offer no tangible support to those babies who need families after they’re born—maybe we cannot claim to be pro-life.

Perhaps, when we say pro-life, what we really mean is that we are merely pro-birth.

Pro-politics.

Maybe the questions we really need to be asking are: what does “pro-life” mean, and what does “Christian” mean?

The term “pro-life” is an adjective that describes someone who is opposed to legalized abortion and who believes in the fundamental right of every human to be given a chance to live.

The word “Christian” is a noun which comes from a Greek word meaning “Little Christ” or “like Christ”. It is someone who has called on Jesus Christ to save them from the penalty of death for their sins.

Someone who has received eternal life.

Someone who is called to be like Christ.

The Bible tells us in John 14:6 that JESUS is LIFE. Not only that, but John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came to bring abundant LIFE. Verse 11 further tells us that Jesus came to give his LIFE.

As a Christian who is pro-life–shouldn’t I believe that every life should be given a chance to be born, and that once they are born, every life should be given an opportunity to live?

Am I offering my help, my voice and the message of true hope to the hopeless, the voiceless, the fatherless, the abused, the hungry, the lost, and the vulnerable so that they may have abundant life even in their distress? Jesus did.

Am I willing to offer my life, to be uncomfortable, poor, abused, hungry, lonely, forsaken, or even killed so that others may truly live? Jesus was.

Maybe, when it really comes down to it, I can only describe myself as a pro-life Christian if I value all life–the unborn, the born, and the eternal–and am willing to defend all of it.

I can’t pick and choose which lives are worth saving and loving and living and dying for, and which lives aren’t. Every life is a life. Every life was created in the image of God to bring glory to him. Every life is precious to Jesus Christ. And as such, it should be precious to me as well.

This may sound like a political post, but it isn’t. As far as politics go, I’m a pretty typical conservative. But when I stop seeing people as lives, and see them only see as political issues, then I need to ask myself if I really value life as much as I think I do.

I think of all of the people in the Bible who were considered political and social problems in their day–prostitutes, hated tax collectors, lepers, publicans, beggars, the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman, demoniacs, and the list goes on. Jesus saw them, fed them, ate with them, touched them, healed them, loved them, and gave them life.

Jesus Christ, in his great love offers each of us life. He isn’t willing that any should perish. Which means that we, like him, must believe that every. life. is. worth. saving.

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Webster’s 1828 Definition of “Life”

“LIFE, n. plu lives. [See Live.]

1. In a general sense, that state of animals and plants, or of an organized being, in which its natural functions and motions are performed, or in which its organs are capable of performing their functions…

2. In animals, animation; vitality; and in man, that state of being in which the soul and body are united.

He entreated me not to take his life.

3. In plants, the state in which they grow or are capable of growth…

4. The present state of existence; the time from birth to death. The life of man seldom exceeds seventy years.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 1 Cor 15.

5. Manner of living; conduct; deportment, in regard to morals.

I will teach my family to lead good lives.

6. Condition; course of living, in regard to happiness and misery. We say, a man’s life has been a series of prosperity, or misfortune.

7. Blood, the supposed vehicle of animation.

And the warm life came issuing through the wound…

10. Spirit; animation; briskness; vivacity; resolution…

12. Exact resemblance; with to, before life.

His portrait is draw to the life.

13. General state of man, or of social manners; as the studies and arts that polish life.

14. Condition; rank in society; as high life and low life.

15.Common occurrences; course of things; human affairs.

But to know that which before us lies in daily life, is the prime wisdom.

16. A person; a living being; usually or always, a human being. How many lives were sacrificed during the revolution?

17. Narrative of a past life; history of the events of life; biographical narration. Johnson wrote the life of Milton, and the lives of other poets.

18. In Scripture, nourishment; support of life.

For the tree of the field is man’s life. Deu 20.

19. The stomach or appetite.

His life abhorreth bread. Job 33.

20. The enjoyments or blessings of the present life.

Having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 1 Tim 4.

21. Supreme felicity.

To be spiritually minded is life and peace. Rom 8.

22. Eternal happiness in heaven. Rom 5.

23. Restoration to life. Rom 5.

24. The author and giver of supreme felicity.

I am the way, the truth, and the life. John 14.

25. A quickening, animating and strengthening principle, in a moral sense. John 6…”