I’ve been pondering a lot lately. Maybe it’s the time of year. It seems things just get more “real” when summer starts to wind down. Or maybe it’s all the stuff that’s been happening in this world – the violence and hardship and pain, and the wars of words between people who really don’t know each other at all but have made decisions about whether to like or hate each other based upon bite-sized chunks of information and even smaller chunks of things like grace and mercy. Funny how we all convince ourselves we are so right because we’ve decided others must be so wrong.
So again, I’ve been pondering – thinking about things like true freedom and values and what it means to be pro-this or anti-that or right or left or the importance of being blue or red or any other color for that matter. And there’s a growing ache in me that isn’t fixed by the latest expert opinion in a news feed of a million expert opinions.
Maybe it’s because I think we were made for something more.
I think about the first amendment, with all its freedoms. I believe in freedom. But maybe not in the way we define it.
In our drive to be free to do whatever and say whatever, we’ve lost something. We’ve used that freedom to destroy and tear down and rip apart – to say “freedom is about what I want rather than what you need.” Pondering it all has led me to see that I don’t really believe in freedom of speech, that there is a big asterisk on the First Amendment for me. Oh, trust me. I enjoy freedom, and I think it’s OK to take a stand for what I believe. But I also know this:
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
We were made for something more. And that something more redefines freedom. It says my freedom shouldn’t be self-serving. It says my freedom should point to what true freedom looks like – healing, redeeming, restorative liberty that brings life to others. There are no laws or political parties that can enforce or deny that freedom, because it is determined by God All-Mighty. The God who gives us the freedom to believe – or not. The God our First Amendment gives us the liberty to worship – or not.
And I think about life. I believe Jesus is pro-life. And I believe Jesus is pro-choice. But maybe not in the way we define them.
The battle rages over the unborn – what defines life and what defines death. I consider myself pro-life (a conviction born from personal experience at the age of 18). But the more I ponder, the more I wonder if I really AM pro-life.
I wonder what would happen if I really DID value life – all life. If I saw every person as someone to care for, to fight for, to hold up in prayer and in love. What would happen if we saw our own lives as precious and unique and counting for something more? How would our decisions – and our opinions – and what we fight for change if we saw each other, and ourselves, as God sees us. To Him, we are all – every one of us – “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The unborn. The born. The young. The old. The whole. The broken. The citizen. The alien. Our friends. Our enemies. And those who just seem to get in the way. Wow. Do I truly look at some people as “just getting in the way?” – those who step on my rights, my time, my space, my comfort, my freedom. There’s that word again. Freedom.
I believe Jesus is pro-life. Scriptures say He set prisoners free, healed those who were broken, cared for those who were thrown away, went out of His way to show people (even those considered enemies) they had value, revealed how precious human life is from beginning to end, and laid down His life so we could all understand what true love – and real life- looks like. And He still does. He says we’re made for something more. We’re told to love our enemies, pray for those who treat us badly, care for the weak, love widows and orphans, tend to our families, steward what we’re given, provide homes to the outcast, season our words with grace, and be kind to those who get in the way. We’re even told to pray for those in authority – every single one of them. Every. Single. One. Every command He gives is active. Life-giving. Life-changing.
We’re told to be pro-life. Real pro-life.
And Jesus is pro-choice. Real pro-choice. A real “laying down your life” life is itself a choice. It doesn’t come naturally, doesn’t come easily. True love doesn’t push itself on others, it doesn’t manipulate. It stands firm but doesn’t bow its back. True love bends to help, it reaches to save, it stretches to rescue. It says “I’m going to lift you high and hold you close and show you that you were made for something more.” Like real freedom, it can’t be enforced, and it can’t be denied.
So I ponder. Maybe it’s the time of year. Maybe it’s what’s happening in the world. Or maybe the ache in my heart is the gentle prodding of One who says to me – and to you – “don’t ever forget – you are made for something more.”