America is growing a culture of life. Polls consistently show more than four in five Americans support life for the unborn in all but a handful of scenarios, while around 10 percent desire unlimited abortion. Ministries like Forty Days For Life conduct twice-yearly vigils of prayer and blessing at abortion facilities and report business is down by as much as three-quarters during campaigns. Clinics are closing left and right. The best news – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – is annual numbers are the lowest since this gruesome reality was legalized in 1973; they are less than half their peak in the 1980s. It is time to proclaim this culture of life as it develops.
Make no mistake; our land is governed by the most pro-death regime in our history. Our president refuses to implement a ban on even partial birth abortion, the brutish procedure in which a baby is partially born alive before being cut into pieces. He props up Planned Parenthood after this agency of death is exposed trafficking for profit in baby body parts. Yet change is in the air, and it is ordinary people driving that change.
The question remains, nonetheless, are we merely people who now support life for the unborn whereas once we did not, or are we people who have recognized God as primarily a bringer and protector of life across the board? Is it a culture of life or just a culture of not-death we are seeking to build?
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A culture of life is not content to just say so in a poll; nor is it longing for other people, or for Congress or the Supreme Court, to change. Likewise, a culture is not limited to one or even a cluster of issues. It is rather a way – a lens – for looking at all there is. A culture of life hungers and thirsts for justice clothed in compassion, loving and honoring those of whom we disapprove while refusing to accept their agenda. It means confronting bullies wherever we encounter them, and especially if we imagine they share our values. It means not compromising what God has called or taught into our hearts because we think it unreachable. There is a God-Father, a Son-Savior, and a Spirit-Animator in the land who is not even slowed by impossibility.
A culture of life looks outside ourselves. It loves God, neighbor and self – in that order – because both God and neighbor are outside ourselves and we actually serve our own best interests with out-looking rather than in-looking.
At the same time there is another culture in our land with a lot of traction. This is the culture of rage.
In our nation and in the Body of Christ most of us feel like outsiders, powerless to guide our lives. We are by turns enraged and desperate to forget it. This explains both the popularity of the angriest presidential candidates in both parties and the current craze for comic book heroes who live outside the system; we want somebody to kick butt in our name. The problem is both rage and escapism stem from the same narcissism so self-evident in the presidential candidates whom a plurality of our people favor. And we feel free to blame our leaders for being what we are. The consequence of this culture of rage can only be a culture of death.
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The antidote to this culture of death is and remains repentance by a critical mass of our people. It means repentance understood as a refocus of attention on the God Who made us a peculiar people, set free for freedom in His image. Only a critical mass of faith-filled or faith-welcoming Americans is needed for this time, just as only a critical mass produced revolution and constitution to launch the greatest nation of all time after Israel. We of that mass stop clinging to our sense of insulted victimhood – which is just another form or elitism – and return to, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” We return not to the words themselves but to the One who spoke them, by the way.
I praise the Lord that so many Americans have come out for life in this season. Yet it is late in the day to simply favor and long for life. It is time to proclaim a culture of life and beg God to substantiate that culture in each of us. And should we think the whole culture too much, let’s remember the good news that a culture begins with one decision – for one person – at a time.
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