by Laurie Nichols
If you live in America, you are likely feeling the great shake-ups in our culture. These past few months have brought a whirlwind of seismic shiftings, from the legalization of same-sex marriage to the current uprising over Planned Parenthood’s sale of unborn baby parts.
As I read articles and blogs and watch videos and commentary about the Planned Parenthood debacle, send out my #defundPP tweets, and use my social media accounts to encourage others to speak life into the abortion debate, I sense that we are experiencing a deeply holy moment. I am not optimistic enough to say that we are on the brink of a massive change in either legislation related to banning abortions nor a culture that firmly plants its feet into the ground of life and the imago Dei (Ps. 139:12-13; Jer. 1:5).
But I am deeply proud of what I see. And yet, as I work through what this specific issue speaks to in relation to our individual and collective gospel witness, I can’t help but sense there is something missing. Amidst the important protests and words of frustration and defamation, there is another reality that can perhaps be heard if we listen hard enough. It is born in the creation narrative and carried out in all of scripture. When God created the world, He created all things beautiful. Not selective things. He looked around and said, “It is good.” And then, yes, with humans, “It is very good!”
As a result of this viewpoint which was grounded in a loving God, we see God fight for things, not just against things. Yes, He fought against idolatry—but more than that, He fought for His glory. He fought against sin, but more than that, He fought for the freedom and purity of His people. He fought against blasphemy and wrong teaching, but more than that, He fought for the ultimate salvation and redemption of all His people at the cross.
Yes, a good gospel witness fights for something first and foremost. A fully-developed gospel witness is one that not only shouts and protests what is wrong, but uses its voice to speak what is right. As it relates to the battle for the lives of the unborn and the fight against Planned Parenthood, can we say we are:
- Against baby killing—but more than that, for life? Each life. The baby, the mom, the clinic worker, the doctor, the Planned Parenthood leaders. Can we say that we value all life, never to the detriment of others—but instead fighting for all lives to be created and valued and found to be loved by God?
- Against evil and oppression and lies—but more than that, for redemption and freedom and truth? We hate what people are doing, but we must continually remind ourselves that these things—evil, oppression, and lies—are from the enemy. We must be for the salvation of the people who do evil and harm. We must be open to loving on them and caring for them and praying for them. Can we say that our faith is strong enough to seek the good of those who are in darkness—even if it’s painfully hard to do?
- Against the ways that sin plays itself out through naivety, callousness, wickedness, abortive practices—but more than that, for a love that transforms and a community that comforts? The women who have abortions are precious. Are we willing to walk alongside them, becoming a community of hope and promise to them? Similarly, can we (gulp!) believe that the men and women who perform and condone the abortive practices are precious? These too are desperately in need of the love of Christ and the power of a friendship and kind words that wipe away shame and guilt and isolation.
A good gospel witness is one that cheers others towards the throne of God despite emotional, social, and societal obstacles. It centers on a God who created all in His image and who fights for the redemption and healing of each person. As we rightly raise our voice for the voiceless, let’s not trample on others as we do so. The stumbling block of the cross is one bloodied and bruised for all—and it stands as a beacon of what God is for—the salvation and redemption of each voiceless person: unborn babies, those have been victimized, and those who still haven’t experienced the true love of Christ.
Laurie Fortunak Nichols is editor of the EvangelVision blog. She is also director of communications at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College and managing editor for Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ). Not given the gift of evangelism, Laurie is continually seeking ways to encourage like-gifted Christians to share the wonder of Jesus to those in darkness.