Standing For Life: What Do We Do When Outrage Doesn’t Work?

Standing for Life: What do we do When Outrage Doesn’t Work?

We live in what many have called an outrage culture.  My social media feed is filled daily with posts expressing shock, anger, disdain and often disregard for those whose opinion differ from that of the one posting.  Often we reduce people down to lowest common denominator of the views they hold with little regard for the fullness of who they are.  The reality is that Christians are as guilty of these things as anyone else.  Yet, outrage-fueled posts have no effect on transforming the minds and hearts of those whose views do not reflect our own.

But what are we to do when the only rightful response to an issue or idea is righteous anger?  What must a Christian do when outrage doesn’t work?  This question has been on my mind since reading over a week ago that the New York state legislature passed a bill permitting abortion at any time up to the birth of a child.  Subsequent comments by prominent political leaders have left me saddened at the reality of sin in a world in rebellion against the God who has created human life in His image and likeness.  Perhaps like me, you have wondered what are we as Christians called to do.  While I do not have all the answers, I do believe the Scriptures would lead us in at least the following ways:

  • Repent – As I have considered the seared conscience that would advocate for the killing of a child for any reason, I have quickly been shown the ugliness of my own apathetic, self-consumed, cowardly heart. Romans 1:25 makes clear that all have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and though the Lord has revealed the truth of Christ to my own heart, I am prone to run to the lies of cynicism, selfishness, and security.  God’s kindness in revealing the state of our hearts is meant to lead to repentance and transformation.  So what does that look like for those who belong to Jesus?
  • Lament – The Scriptures give language to the believer for lament over sins that ravage the most vulnerable in society. In Psalm 10, the Psalmist unapologetically asks God “Why do you stand far away?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble” (vs. 1)?  He chronicles oppression of the poor, self-centeredness, greed, renunciation of God, pride, cursing, deceit, murder of those who are innocent, preying on the helpless, and manipulative practices that would entrap those already in poverty.  His cry?  “Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted” (vs. 12).  The Psalmist invites our lament before a God who is compassionate, gracious, and able to come to the aid of the vulnerable.
  • Pray – Closely aligned with lament, prayer acknowledges our inability to enact change, particularly in the human heart. God’s people are invited to pray, “Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  God’s kingdom is a kingdom of life, joy, and peace.  My tendency is to give myself over to anxiety, worry, or resignation, believing that my prayers are of no effect.  But we’re implored in the Scriptures to pray for all people, because we have a God “who desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1Tim. 2:4) and “who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).  We should pray not only for the end of abortion, but for those, including ourselves, whose hearts are hardened to the truth.  And we must pray for those whose life circumstances would lead them to wrestle with decisions that ultimately waver between life and death.
  • Speak – As followers of Jesus, we are called to speak truth in love and give voice to the voiceless. Whether the issue is abortion, racism, disregard for the poor, despising of the refugee, we are called as God’s people to speak truth that human life is precious to God, as those who are made in His image and have been fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  This will make us unpopular with friends on all sides of the spectrum, yet silence speaks more loudly than our words, especially when God’s truth and God’s people are at stake.
  • Live – In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable about how God will ultimately separate those who through faith belong to him and those who do not. He does not say that those who belong to him will have heads filled with knowledge and deep theological insights.  Rather, it’s those whose lives have been so transformed that they have given food to the hungry, clothed the naked, welcomed the stranger, and visited the sick, and in so doing have likewise served Jesus with their lives (Mt. 25:31-39).  Christians live out the implications of the Gospel through adoption, respite care, foster care, discipling  young men and young women whose lives have been turned upside down through an unwanted pregnancy, volunteering at care pregnancy centers and through other means, as the Lord shows us the need.
  • Give – God has blessed his people with time, talent and treasure to be stewarded for His kingdom. This includes the spread of the Gospel in Word, but also in deed.  The early church pooled financial resources for the advancement of mission work throughout Asia and Europe, as well as for the cause of mercy and justice.  Care pregnancy centers, such as Gateway and Human Coalition in Raleigh and other such locations in cities throughout the United States are resourced through the gifts of the body of Christ to holistically pushback on the darkness of a culture of death by giving men and women the Gospel hope that enables them to choose life. 
  • Love – Jesus summarizes the whole law of God as love for God and love for neighbor. He defines our neighbor in the story of the Good Samaritan, as not only the one with whom we would agree and easily identify, but even those we would consider our enemies (Luke 10:25-37).  Jesus calls his followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them (Mt. 5:44).  How is this possible?  It’s only when we see that we who were called the enemies of God have been loved by Jesus, who willingly gave himself for us (Gal. 2:20, Rom. 5:8), that we can be transformed by Him to love even those whose hearts have been seared to the point of taking human life.  We do not love through silence or approval, but rather through our prayers, acts of service, speaking God’s truth, and standing for the most vulnerable in society.

My prayer for the church is that God would use her in our day to both show and share the love of Christ, standing for life in the midst of a culture of death.