Last Friday there was a march in Washington and in many other places. This coming Saturday there will be another march in Washington - and in many other places. The primary result of both marches will basically be that those who participated in them and supported them will be more committed to their previous stances, will feel good because they participated in them, and probably will change very few minds in the process. There will have been activism on both sides with self-imposed monickers like pro-choice, pro-life - while at the same time calling those who oppose them far less positive names like anti-choice and anti-life. But I am concerned that when it is all over what we will have is two groups who are more focused on the other side than they are on those caught in the middle.
Who are those who are caught in the middle? In regard to the question of abortion - it is several groups of people. First of all it is the women who face a pregnancy and what to do now that they know they are pregnant. There is also whatever is in their womb that is at stake. How is this being addressed? Here is where I will begin to make my main point. When Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5 that we are to, “Let our light shine in such a way that people might see our good works and glorify our Father Who is in heaven,” I believe he meant something other than participating in a march. Honestly - considering what He said about the “least of these,” I believe He had in mind stuff more like rolling up your sleeves and serving those who are caught in the middle.
I’ve moved away, in my latter years, from marching much any more. Looking back over 50 plus years now, I see far more accomplished in addressing the abortion issue by rolling up my sleeves and working WITH the women who are caught in the middle of crisis pregnancies. There are plenty of them who have written and spoken saying how grateful they were for a place where they were loved and helped in the midst of their crisis. There are others who spoke through tears stating their gratefulness in having a place that loved them even after they had an abortion. Their thankfulness was for someone telling them and helping them find forgiveness when they thought it was not possible to be forgiven. At last count I don’t remember any women thanking me for marching - at least women who were caught in the middle. Do I think marching is wrong? No, I cannot say that. The right to express ourselves peacefully in a march - and even for some to carry signs with fairly incendiary messages on them (I’m speaking about both sides of the issue folks) is protected under our system of government. There are also times when a peaceful march is needed. But can I be perfectly candid with you who are reading this. Keeping an accurate count of those at a march - that is hard work - and often debated as soon as the numbers come out. Keeping an accurate count of those rolling up their sleeves and being dedicated over time to those women and whatever is in their womb in the middle? That, my friends is rather easy - because the number plummets to easily manageable numbers.
I do attend a rally every year. It is called "Sanctity of Life" day. On this day those of us who come together tend to shy away from street protests and marches. Our celebration of life focuses on God giving each of us, including developing babies in the womb, life. It focuses on the real needs of women who are facing the extremely hard decision of what do to in a crisis pregnancy. We focus on those who are hurting badly because they've had an abortion and wonder if they can be forgiven. We focus on people who have adopted children - and face many hard, day-to-day realities of rearing a child who has everything from reactive-detachment disorder to babies coming off the drugs their mothers were taking while pregnant. We want to encourage them - help them - and be respite families for them when they need a night together as a couple. We do this because we know this will help far more than holding signs with incendiary messages that honestly do far more to infuriate the opposition than win their hearts. It would not be inaccurate to say that these gatherings are about remembering those people who are still in the middle - and celebrating some who have rolled up their sleeves to help.
Oh that we would be able to see that being a "light set on a hill" has far more to do with choices to address the problems of our society with hands-on, very hard, action-oriented solutions - than it does with shouting at - and eventually shouting down those who disagree with us. According to our Lord, that light is visible as people see our good deeds. They see them not in light of how awesome we are (which will do little more than cause us to be proud of ourselves for that self-glorifying awesomeness). They see the motive for our works - as well as the works themselves - and glorify our Father Who is in heaven. At the end of such works there are no congratulations in order for us - because we know what our hearts were like before He saved and changed us. No! All congratulation and celebration is focus on such an incredible Father Who has given birth (through salvation) and reared (through teaching, encouragement, and discipline) such good kids. They honor and glory for the works belongs to God! In doing them our hope is that they will know that we are Jesus' disciples by our love for one another, our love for those who oppose us, our love for the "least of these," and even our love for our enemies. May our stand for life be seen far more often in these ways - than in holding a sign, yelling a phrase, and honestly - doing little or nothing to truly change our culture. If we want to make America great again . . . why don't we try rolling up our sleeves, wading into the mess within our culture, and getting our hands dirty serving, loving, and ministering (and I believe this includes sharing the gospel with them), to those who are hurting because of its problems. If you participate in a march - good! But if all you do is march - and there are not regular marching orders to follow to selflessly and sacrificially fix the problems, your march ended far too soon.