Abortion and Abundant Life - Radical

Abortion and Abundant Life

When it comes to an issue like abortion, many Christians rightly see the need to defend the unborn through political and legal means. However, we often fail to see how abortion is connected to Scripture’s teaching on sexual morality, singleness, marriage, and the way we care for and disciple mothers and fathers in our churches. These issues have surfaced as we’ve made our way through 1 Corinthians 6–7, and now in this message from John 10:10 David Platt points us to a more holistic picture of what it means to address the issue of abortion and all those who are involved. Those who claim to be pro-life should be passionate about the abundant life that Christ provides for all who belong to him.

If you have a Bible—and I hope you or somebody around you does—let me invite you to open with me to John 10. We have one more challenging topic to cover today in this series on Sexuality, Singleness and Marriage. You’re going to wonder, “What does this topic have to do with what we’ve seen in 1 Corinthians 6 and 7? This topic is not mentioned anywhere in these chapters.”

I knew months ago when we were looking at this series that we needed to talk about this topic before moving on in 1 Corinthians. For far too long, we have had a far too narrow view of this topic. We’ve failed to see how it is completely intertwined with what we’ve seen in God’s Word on sexuality, singleness and marriage. In recent months I’ve been praying through this topic in particular because I’m convinced that we as the church are being called by God to do much more than we have ever done before. The topic I’m referring to is abortion.

As soon as I say the word, much like other words we’ve discussed in this series, I know that people’s minds and hearts start going in a variety of different directions. First and foremost, I want to immediately say to anyone who has had an abortion or supported an abortion—or some of you who have even been forced by others to have an abortion or abortions—I want to immediately say to you what I’ve said when it comes to other issues we’ve discussed recently. My only desire for you is to apply the healing balm of the gospel and God’s Word to any wound in your life. I pray that you will genuinely feel the love of God for you in a fresh way today.

At the same time, I assume there are some listening today, or who will listen to this in the future, who are considering an abortion. Research shows that almost half of the people who get abortions are professing Christians. There was one conversation in the lobby in between our gatherings today with someone who had an abortion this last week, so I don’t presume to know what’s going on in every single person’s life who is listening right now.

As we walk through God’s Word in the next few minutes, I pray this might be the means by which God leads you to give birth to that baby so he or she can thrive in abundant life—either under your care or someone else’s care, and that you might be able to thrive in abundant life.

Other people hear the word abortion and think, “Why are we talking about this political issue, specifically this political issue that’s prominent in one party or one type of person?” I would simply say, first, that this church is definitely not about one party or one type of person. I hope we have shown and will continue to show that we care about all kinds of issues across the political spectrum to the extent the Bible speaks to those issues. From issues of race to refugees to religious liberty to sexuality to abortion— all these things have been biblical issues far before they were political issues.

We’re a Bible church, not a this-or-that-party church. We love coming together under the banner of the Bible. This means that when God speaks in His Word, we listen, then we speak as the church. We don’t say anything less than what the Bible says; we don’t say anything more than what the Bible says. We’re committed as leaders in the church to not being selective about issues we address based on any political ideology.

Today we are recognizing how God has clearly spoken in His Word about the value and beauty of every child He fearfully and wonderfully forms in a mother’s womb, as well as the value and beauty of that mother and that father who come together to create that child. This is why we’re addressing this topic in this series.

What I want to do today is build on past sermons where we’ve walked through God’s Word. We’re not going to be walking through texts like Psalm 139 and others that show the biblical perspective on abortion. Just to make sure we’re all on the same foundation without diving into all the things we’ve walked through before, here is the foundation we’re working with from the Bible.

  1. God creates every child in the womb from conception and He loves them so much.

  2. This means abortion is a sin against God and the beautiful work He is doing in the womb. It’s a sin that not only affects that child, but it affects that mom and that dad.

  3. This means we as God’s people must work to care for every child in the womb, and every woman and man involved in that child’s story.

If you have any questions about these truths, I would point you to mcleanbible.org/sexuality. We have links to a variety of resources from this series there, including this issue. There are pages of past sermons that show a biblical perspective on abortion, a perspective we desperately need to see and hear and to be continually reminded of in our culture.

On top of all of that, today we’re asking, “What does abortion have to do with sexuality, singleness, and marriage—and the gospel?” The answer is: everything.

  • Sexuality—how we view our bodies and every other person’s body, from the very beginning as loved and cherished by God.
  • Singleness—which we talked about last week. Did you know that 86% of abortions in the United States happen among single, unmarried people? There’s an unmistakable correlation between sex outside of marriage and abortion.
  • Marriage—which means that if we’re going to address abortion, we must focus on God’s design for sex and marriage between a woman and a man.

So contrary to popular talking points on both sides of this debate in our culture, abortion is not just a woman’s issue. Research shows that the person who will have the largest impact on a woman’s decision to have or not have an abortion is the father of that child. Meanwhile, most conversations about abortion focus almost exclusively on a baby and a mom, totally ignoring the dad in the process.

Sexuality, singleness, marriage between a woman and a man—all these issues relate to abortion. Do we really think it’s a coincidence that the so-called sexual revolution of the last 50 years in this country has been accompanied by the abortion of 60 million children? Do we not see that the more we have decoupled sex from marriage, motherhood, and fatherhood, the more we have aborted babies? Do we realize, then, what this means?

This means that working to end abortion politically, materially or otherwise, while ignoring marriage, singleness, sexuality and the gospel biblically is like working to end cancer while ignoring smoking, excessive sun exposure, poor eating or no exercise. We may be laser-focused on finding a cure, but even when we do, people will still be getting cancer at the same rate. They’ll come back with another case, another and another, because we’ve ignored critical issues that caused the problem in the first place.

We haven’t even mentioned other issues that we must be serious about addressing if we want abortions to stop. Issues like poverty, abuse, drug use, trafficking and many other factors that lead to abortions—and factors that will affect lives once a baby is born. Surely our desire is not just to see babies born, only to leave them and their mom and their dad in the middle of the situations that were leading them to abortion in the first place. It’s a cop-out to say, “I’m against abortion, so I do this politically,” while we ignore countless issues at the root of abortion.

Most importantly, we haven’t even mentioned the core issue: the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of God’s love that alone has the power to change people’s hearts, lives and relationships. Surely our desire is not even just for a baby to live. If so, we’ve missed the heart of Jesus. Our desire is for a baby to thrive, a mom to thrive and a dad to thrive which is only possible by the power of Jesus’ love in people’s lives.

Which brings us back to why we’re talking about this as the church today. We talk all the time about our mission as a church, which is to glorify God by making disciples of all the nations. I want us to see how disciple making and working for unborn children and their moms and dads with unexpected pregnancies go hand in hand.

In just a moment I want to introduce you to Roland Warren, the president of Care Net. Our Loudoun campus actually shares offices with this national organization that oversees a network of over 1,000 pregnancy resource centers in our country. I had an opportunity earlier this year to speak virtually to all their leaders in all thousand-plus of their centers across the country. They asked me to speak on the importance of proclaiming the gospel within their work, which of course I was glad to do. I am zealous to be a part of a wholistic vision for life that prioritizes proclaiming the gospel along with making disciples.

John 10: 10 Speaks About a Pro-Abundent-Life Message

Over time, I’ve gotten to know Roland and have been so sharpened by him. He’s a sharp thinker, a graduate of Princeton and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. But more than that, after he and his wife—before they were married—faced an unexpected pregnancy, they made the decision not only to have that child, but then to give their lives working for other children and moms and dads like them. He’s now done this for decades and has helped me see these unmistakable links in even greater ways between abortion, sexuality, singleness, marriage and making disciples with the good news of God’s love. So I asked him if he would be willing to come today to share from his perspective, based on God’s Word—which I know is driving everything this brother does. He’s led Care Net to move from what they call a “pro-life message” to a “pro-abundant-life message,” based on Jesus’ words in John 10:10. It just so happens that in God’s providence, this was our Bible reading yesterday. I didn’t plan; it’s straight from the Lord. I’ve asked Roland to unpack what these words mean: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This is Jesus saying why He came—to make abundant life available to us in a world where there’s a thief that wants to steal and kill and destroy.

I’ve heard Roland say there are fatal flaws in the way Christians in churches think about abortion, limiting our thoughts to the political realm and political actions which, as you’ll hear from him, are certainly important but are also woefully incomplete. There is so much more God has called us to do, specifically to see women and men facing pregnancy decisions transformed by the gospel, empowered not only to choose life for a child, but to choose abundant life for themselves and their families. This is what we want to be about, especially as we think about sexuality, singleness and marriage. I’m going to invite you to hear from our brother, then I’m going to come back and close with a call to action. So MBC family in this room and other locations, let’s welcome to Roland Warren.

Roland: Thank you, Pastor David. It’s a blessing to be at McLean Bible Church today. It’s good to be here. When I think about this issue, it’s a tough one. I endeavor to set people’s minds ablaze without setting their hair on fire, which is a delicate task with an issue like this.

A couple years ago, I had an opportunity and privilege to speak to a group of pro-life pastors in Texas. I started my presentation by asking them, “How many of you became pastors because you wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade?” No one raised their hand. So I asked, “How many of you became pastors because you wanted to end abortion in your lifetime?” Still no hands. I asked one last question. “How many of you became pastors because you felt called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples for Jesus Christ?” Guess what? Every hand shot up.

Discipleship. It’s the great mission of every God-honoring pastor and member of a vibrant church because it’s the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. The New Testament tells us that Jesus chose twelve disciples. Indeed, discipleship was so important to Jesus that His last words before returning to heaven were a call to make disciples. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19).

So each of His initial disciples, with the exception of Judas, made disciples who then made disciples who then made disciples and the gospel of Christ transformed the world. Therefore I submit to you that if we want the church to do the good work of making abortion unthinkable in congregations and in communities, abortion must be viewed primarily as a discipleship issue.

Now, Christians don’t have a challenge with that about poverty or nakedness or thirst. You know, we provide water for the thirsty, food for the hungry, clothes for the naked. We have no problems with seeing those issues through the lens of discipleship. But we do when it comes to compassion for the pregnant.

You might be saying, “Well, what does discipleship have to do with abortion? Isn’t this really a material support and political problem?” The most common objection I hear to viewing abortion as a discipleship issue is that our focus as pro-life people should be on meeting the immediate needs of a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. So we think, “She might get distracted by a presentation of the gospel. We might even risk alienating the people whom we seek to help. Don’t we just need to give them material support, then hope they choose life?”

Now, while this approach may appear to be expedient, for Christians it’s insufficient. As you hear John 10:10—where Christ said He came that we might have life and have it abundantly—then look at the word “life,” there are basically two ways of viewing that word in the Greek. One is bios, which is where we get the word biology. The other is zoe, which is connected to our relationship with God. It’s a unique type of spiritual life that only comes from our relationship with God. So when Christ said, “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly,” He is speaking in terms of both bios and zoe. In a sense He is saying, “I have come that you might be heartbeats that are heaven-bound.” Indeed, Christ came to give this kind of life to all, both inside and outside the womb. That’s why when folks ask me if I’m pro-life, I say, “No. I’m pro-abundant-life.” And I’m pro-abundant-life because Christ was pro-abundant-life.

You see, you can be an atheist and be pro-life, because then you’re striving for a heartbeat. As God-honoring as that is, that’s transactional. But you can’t be an atheist and be pro-abundant-life because you’re not seeking heartbeats that are heaven-bound, which is transformational. Christ always cared about transformation. Christ’s call is to come as you are, but not to stay as you came. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).

So then, how can we leave those considering abortion where we find them spiritually? Planned Parenthood and the other abortion providers have a sign on the door that says, “Thank you. Come again.” That is a retail transaction. At Care Net Pregnancy Centers, and certainly at churches, our door cannot have that sign. We don’t want people to come again as they were. We do want them to return, not to be served, but to serve others. We also don’t want them to risk abortion again, then also to have the same choices that led them to abortion in the first place reappear in their lives. And we certainly don’t want to see their children in the same circumstances. Pro-abundant-life ministry has to be transformational, not transactional. As Christians, we know that lasting transformation only comes through a relationship with Christ.

Now, you might ask, “What about the politics? I mean, isn’t abortion primarily about overturning Roe v. Wade, so isn’t that what we should be focused on? Shouldn’t that be the goal of the pro-life movement?” You know, for decades pro-life people have marched, rallied, campaigned and voted for prolife candidates to state and federal offices. Decades have been spent trying to get the right judges on the Supreme Court, so that Roe could be overturned. These efforts have been necessary and noble. They have even produced some excellent bills at a state and federal level that have limited the impact of abortion. These pro-life legislative and political endeavors are part of a process, right? They’re part of being faithful to God’s call on behalf of the oppressed. Governments have the power to kill. When a government becomes unjust in the use of its power, its first victims are the most vulnerable. Remember, the Nazis also went after the infirmed, the handicapped and the elderly. Why? Because they were the most vulnerable in society.

As pro-abundant-life people, and as Christians, we cannot ignore the political realm. Our God is a God of justice and mercy. So when our government is unjust and unmerciful, we must act. However, we can’t allow our engagement in the political realm to cause us to think that our primary calling is political. Often when I ask Christians if they’re pro-life and they say yes, the next thing they tell me is who they voted for. Why? Because they’re missing the point that our primary calling is to make disciples for Jesus. They’re viewing the life issues primarily through a political rather than a discipleship lens.

So I point folks back to the story where Jesus was handed the coin and asked about taxes. His response is connected very much to the issue of abortion. He said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). What does Caesar care about primarily? Well, he was concerned about the material and the political. But Jesus said that we are to have a higher calling. We’re called to the higher things of God, to be disciples and to make disciples.

Here’s the thing. You can’t be a disciple maker without providing material support. First John 3:17 says, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” In other words, you can’t be a disciple or a disciple maker without caring for the material needs of others.

The same is true in the political realm, from a political engagement perspective. God is involved in the setting up and the tearing down of kingdoms, as well as the lifting up and the making low of rulers. The Bible says the government will be on Christ’s shoulders (Isaiah 9:6). So as followers of Christ, we can’t be disciple makers without political engagement, because we’re called to hold those in political power accountable to protect the vulnerable. But again, as Christians, we must never put our primary hope in political engagement. We have a higher calling. You see, if we don’t address the reason people have a desire for abortion, then just overturning Roe v. Wade won’t fix the problem. In fact, when and if Roe v. Wade is overturned, there will still be sex outside of marriage and there will still be unplanned pregnancies.

For example, we did a national survey in which we talked to women who had had abortions, asking, “Who was the most influential person in your decision to abort?” Guess who it was? It wasn’t her mother. It wasn’t her best friend. It wasn’t Planned Parenthood. It was the guy who got her pregnant. As you heard, 86% of the women who have abortions are unmarried. Therefore, how can we end the abortion crisis without strengthening marriage? You see, as pro-abundant-life people, we realize this issue is not just about the sanctity of life; it’s also about the sanctity of marriage and family and God’s design for it.

John 10: 10 Calls Us to Consider the Challenging Circumstances of Jesus’ Birth

Consider the birth of Christ. Mary faced an unplanned pregnancy from a human perspective. But what did God do to make sure Mary’s unplanned pregnancy was not a crisis pregnancy? He sent an angel to Joseph, who called and challenged him to be a husband to Mary and a father to the Child growing inside her. In fact, it was the very first thing he said. “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your…” what? Not your “baby mama,” your “wifey.” No, he said take her to be your wife.

Should we not have the same call to men today? Because we know that when a man steps up as a husband and a father, the woman is more likely to give the unborn child bios, life. Even when that’s not possible, we still want to help that woman and that man to reconnect fatherhood and motherhood, sex and marriage, and God’s design for those things, so she doesn’t become a repeat client, so to speak, at a pregnancy center. So he doesn’t replicate his behavior either. And don’t we want those values to be communicated to their children?

Yet for over 40 years in the pro-life movement, we’ve largely neglected this aspect, this “God’s design for family linked to God’s call to discipleship” perspective rhetorically and programmatically. Care Net does not. You see, it’s not just about saving a baby—as God-honoring as that is. It’s also about raising a child and breaking the inter-generational cycle of abortion, father absence, and single-mother homes.

Indeed, I grew up in a single-mother home, so I know how difficult this can be for mothers and the children. So should we stop opposing Roe v. Wade? Of course not. We press on with our legal attacks on Roe. But we don’t make overturning Roe the goal of our movement. It’s simply a tactic to insure that every person, whether born or unborn, has the opportunity to experience abundant life found in Jesus Christ.

As I’ve observed the last 48 years of the pro-life movement, I see so many things that are worth celebrating. I see lives that have been saved. In Care Net’s network there are 1,100-plus amazing pregnancy centers that have saved over 823,000 lives since 2008. It’s amazing! I see people working in communities and churches to mobilize around those at risk for abortion. I see the abortion rate declining in popular opinion, turning particularly against second and third-trimester abortions. These are all great victories.

However, I also know that as many as 2,500 unborn babies will lose their lives to abortion daily. These unborn children need more than laws to protect them if they are to have abundant life. They need men and women whose hearts have been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and who are ready to disciple anyone considering abortion, before and after the abortion decision. They need people who will provide compassion, hope, help and discipleship. That’s the role of the folks in this house, regardless of who’s in the White House.

One day Jesus took His disciples to Mount Hermon. The locals believed this mountain contained a passageway into hell itself. Pagan worshipers would feast, drink and engage in all kinds of immorality there. God-fearing Jews would never even venture near the place. Yet this is precisely where Jesus led His disciples. In the face of this evil, Christ promised that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). He wanted His disciples to know that all the evil of that mountain, with the immoral behavior it represented, could not resist the power of His church. Gates are not offensive structures; they’re defensive. They don’t move. Christ’s clear implication was that His disciples—that’s you and that’s me—were to be engaged in an offensive combat to literally tear down the gates of hell, brick by brick.

Abortion is a Mount Hermon in our culture, a proverbial gate of hell that’s waiting to be torn down. But the church’s primary weapon to defeat the gates of hell is our love for our neighbor and our call for the Great Commission. We must never render unto Caesar what is God’s. Our God is the Giver and Sustainer of life. When you have this perspective, then see a woman who’s facing an unplanned or difficult pregnancy, your first thought it not what material support is available or who you’re going to vote for, as important as these things are. Your first thought is that she needs to become a disciple of Jesus Christ if she’s not already. The child growing inside her needs to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. The guy who got her pregnant needs to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. We need to claim God’s design for family and try to build toward that. We need to view this through a discipleship lens.

So the abortion issue is not just something outside the church, it’s connected to the core mission and the ministry of the church. Is that how you think about it? You see, Jesus had two types of ministries: a retrieving ministry and a receiving ministry. We see the retrieving ministry first when He called His disciples. “You, with the net. Hey you. Yeah, you. Drop the net. I want to make you a fisher of men.” “You, up in the tree. Zacchaeus. Come down. We’re going to do a power lunch.”

We see His receiving ministry in the case of the woman with the issue of blood. She touched the tassel of His garment and He lovingly received her. Interestingly, abortion is an issue of blood—of flesh and blood, her flesh and blood, his flesh and blood. It’s bloody. It’s an issue of blood.

Here’s the thing. If a woman who attends church wakes up Sunday morning and takes a pregnancy test and it’s positive, will she think that she will be stoned with condemnation in her church? Or will she think her church will treat her the way Jesus treated that woman? He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11). In other words, it’s, “Come as you are, but don’t stay as you came; be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Further, who is she going to talk to? It is typically about nine days from the time the woman confirms her pregnancy until she schedules and sometimes even has her abortion. There’s only one Sunday in there. She’s got to know beforehand where her church stands.

We did a national survey and found out nearly four out of ten women who had had abortions were attending church at least monthly at the time of their first abortion. This is a huge problem in the church. We are funding the thing we’re protesting against. You see, our churches need to have a “tassel” ministry that she can touch, with someone designated and committed to love her. These women need to be received. If not, Planned Parenthood looks like a compassionate alternative to them.

Then what about the women and men who are reached and connected with through the network of pregnancy centers? There needs to be a ministry on-ramp between pregnancy centers and the church, so they can be transitioned to the church for ongoing support and discipleship. That way, they and their children become disciples who make disciples who live and love like Jesus. They need to be retrieved.

That’s why Care Net developed “Making Life Disciples,” a ministry resource that equips the church to offer compassion, hope, help and discipleship to women and men considering abortion, both inside and outside the church. It’s about mobilizing small groups. You see, a lot of Christians are in small groups. But often our small groups are about us loving us. What if our small groups became about us loving them? What if your small group got trained so that you could come alongside someone facing a pregnancy decision, then help them become a disciple of Jesus Christ?

Life decisions need life support. They may want to have the abortion because they’re ashamed and they don’t understand how to work through that. Well, have you ever had shame in your life that you’ve worked through? Or he’s running from fatherhood because he didn’t have a father. He’s terrified. Or she can’t get to her prenatal visits, or they don’t have a place to live. Or they’ve been dating for a while, living together, whatever, and they don’t know about marriage, yet you’ve been married for 20 years, 30 years. Will you walk alongside a couple? Will you walk alongside a father? Will you walk alongside a mother?

See, when you start to think about this issue as a discipleship issue, you’ll understand that this isn’t just about our treasure, it’s about our time and our talent. It’s discipleship. In any case, I encourage you to visit makinglifedisciples.com, or Care Net’s website. You’ll hear all kinds of stories of Christians just like you who are coming alongside folks and making a difference in this issue. They’re doing what we’re called to do.

You see, when you start to view this life issue as a discipleship issue, you see how important this perspective is in stemming the tide of abortion. Why? Because it addresses the demand side of the abortion issue, even if the supply side is still there. Even if abortion is legal. Women and men who make life decisions because we’ve loved and supported them at their desperate time of need are transformed. Amen?

You’ll be transformed as well. You will see those facing unplanned pregnancies as a mission field. As a disciple maker, you will help women, men and their children—both born and unborn—have bios, which is physical life, and zoe, spiritual life. This is the life that Christ lived and died to give them. See, if you transition from being pro-life to being pro-abundant-life, you’ll start to see this issue very differently. Amen? Thank you very much.

David: Roland, that was a lot packed into a few minutes. I’ve spent many hours with Roland and know there’s so much more he could share. If you go to that sexuality resources page, you’ll see a variety of resources along those lines. Praise God for 800,000-plus lives saved through the work of these pregnancy resource centers.

I want to follow up on what Roland shared by saying to us as a church that together we are going to step into a more comprehensive ministry that intertwines our mission to make disciples with caring for the unborn and women and men in our city. By God’s grace, there have been things going on, but it’s time to take those to a whole other level. We are not going to settle for simply thinking that voting this way or that way is what God has called us to do. We’re going to spend ourselves caring for pregnant women and men in the church and across this city, especially in a culture where abortion is becoming so much easier to obtain, even amidst the medical community here in our city that will encourage you to abort your baby at the first sign of a genetic challenge. We’re discarding kids with disabilities in our culture as inconvenient to us. As a church family with all kinds of children with special needs whom we love and treasure, God help us to show that every life, every child, from the start is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made by God Himself.

John 10: 10 Challenges Christians to Consider the Following:

Here are a few specific actions I want to challenge you to consider. I say “consider,” because I am not saying that every member of our church family should do all of these things. I don’t have a verse I can point to that says you must do this. So I want to be very clear about that. At the same time I want to challenge you to prayerfully consider these things as the overflow of God’s Word. These are just four things, but there are countless others you can consider that need to be done. So maybe this will spur you to think in other directions. In light of what we’ve just walked through, here are four to consider today.

1. Consider going through “Making Life Disciples” from Care Net.

Roland and Care Net created this entire curriculum that I would encourage some of you to go through individually, some of you as couples, some of you in small groups I’ve started going through this. It basically takes what we started talking about today to another level, intertwining this with disciple making.

We can talk about a thousand pregnancy care centers—and praise God for them and all they’re doing—we’ll be talking more about them in just a minute. There are 400,000 churches in our country and millions of followers of Jesus. If we were serious about integrating disciple making with care along these lines, it would make a huge difference. As Roland has said over and over again, we just want to serve the church. This is a resource that can be helpful toward that end.

2. Consider serving at a Pregnancy Resource Center.

I had a meeting this last week with leaders of Care Net centers across our city as part of thinking through what more we as a church can do. These leaders are amazing.

One of them told this story from right here in our area. One of their volunteers was on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic on one of those really cold days this past winter. It’s really easy to get an abortion in DC, which means people from other states actually travel to our city to get abortions. There was a woman from New Jersey who had come down to get an abortion at this particular clinic.

The volunteer struck up a conversation with this woman before she entered the clinic. She said, “Hey, I just wanted you to know there are other options. I would be willing to walk with you to think through other options.” The woman responded, “Thanks,” but then went into the clinic.

After she got in there, she started thinking more about the conversation she had just had. In her appointment, she said, “I’m not going to do this today,” and walked back out. She made a beeline to this volunteer, who was still standing there in the bitter cold, and said, “Will you help me?” The volunteer took the woman to the Pregnancy Resource Center, where they started talking. This volunteer and another volunteer got in the car with the woman and drove her themselves back to New Jersey, where they helped her get connected with a pregnancy care center and a church

I should mention that the abortion clinic had actually paid the woman’s travel expenses to come to the clinic and had paid to put her up in a hotel. . But this woman is now going to have her baby!

So yes, let’s march once a year, but let’s also stand on sidewalks week after week after week in the bitter cold and love people. Consider serving in a Pregnancy Resource Center. I pray that the fruit of this sermon might be hundreds of people from MBC flooding Pregnancy Resource Centers with requests to volunteer.

3. Consider foster care or adoption.

Knowing there are a variety of circumstances that might lead a mother to not be able to care for her child, we as a church want to come alongside her to care for that child. There are so many children in need. I pray that MBC will be continually marked by a care for orphans according to God’s Word.

I’m not sure if you’ve followed the news along these lines recently, but there has been much political discussion about Christian adoption agencies and LGBTQ couples. I won’t go into all the details there, but suffice it to say, if we as followers of Jesus believe that an orphan needs both a mom and a dad to care for them, instead of two moms or two dads, then those of us in biblical marriages need to step in and care for them. If we don’t, who will? We have another foster care and adoption class starting on line in a couple weeks. You can find information about that on the sexuality resource page.

I would just say personally how thankful Heather and I am, as we continue to go through our next adoption process. This past Sunday, I was at both our Loudoun and Prince William campuses where the first question numerous people asked was, “Hey, how’s your son? Any word?” We’re still waiting. I want you to know it’s really good to have a church family praying for, walking with and waiting with us in that process.

So God may not lead you to foster or adopt, but consider how you can support families in this process. God has designed His church to care for children in need, to care for orphans, so let’s do what He’s designed us to do.

4. Make a disciple in this city.

The final step I would encourage followers of Jesus to take may be the most significant of all. I’m actually not going to use the word “consider” with this one, because I’ve got a verse for this one. Make a disciple in this city. Share the gospel with somebody in your sphere of influence. You can do it through one of the local outreaches we have all across the city. Lead somebody to abundant life in Jesus. We will ultimately effect change in the city and in our culture by leading people to life in Him.

Make a disciple, but don’t do this on your own. Get involved in a church group where you can come alongside others and together grow in Jesus. The goal of our groups is to care for each other like family, to grow together in Jesus and to make disciples together on mission in the world. Along these lines, invite and welcome, then support single parents in your group. As the church, let’s surround single parents and their kids, including them in groups that are loving and caring for them. Let’s be a place for women and men with unexpected pregnancies to have a home and a family to walk with them without shame.

This person who shared with me between services was saying, “I just felt so ashamed.” There’s no shame here. We love you. God loves you. We want to be a place where people are running to the church, not to an abortion clinic. This leads to where I want to close in particular. I mentioned in the beginning that if you are considering abortion, please reach out to us. Please, please, please call the church. Reach out to a pastor. Reach out to me directly at [email protected] We want to walk with you. There’s no shame. We want to care for you. We want to care for this beautiful baby within you.

If you have had an abortion, please know that through faith in Jesus, God forgives entirely, He heals deeply and redeems fully. This church has many women and men who have walked that road and who have seen that the theme of this series is true. God is absolutely able to turn brokenness into beauty. We actually have an ongoing abortion recovery group for women and men. That tassel, to use Roland’s language, is available. You can find out information about that at the sexuality resource page. We want you to know you are loved here.

Many people who have walked through an abortion have gone years with nobody else even knowing about their abortion. It’s been something they’ve been dealing with in their own heart, on their own. We want to walk through that with you even years later.

This leads to the ultimate invitation I would give to everyone listening today who has never experienced the love of Jesus in your life, who has never placed your faith in Jesus for abundant life. I have good news for you. The very next verse—John 10:11—says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The whole picture here is that we have sinned against God and are separated from Him. But God has done the unthinkable. He has come to us in the person of Jesus and has paid the price for all our sin, all our shame. When we trust in Jesus and what He did on the cross for us and through His resurrection from the dead, we can be forgiven of all our sin, wiped clean of all our shame and restored to a relationship with God to have eternal life with Him.

Brokenness to beauty—that’s available to anyone, no matter who you are, no matter what you have ever done. Abundant life can be yours in Jesus. I want to invite you to receive that life in Him today. I want to lead us in prayer along these lines, then I want to introduce you to Farrah Wu. For years she and her husband, Chung Wu, have been making disciples as part of this church family. A couple years ago, as we were walking through God’s Word on abortion, God spoke to Farrah’s heart and she took action. She and her husband began leading abortion recovery groups, caring for women and men with unwanted pregnancies. Together they have impacted countless lives, even in just the last couple years. I’ve asked Farrah to lead us in prayer, specifically in light of all we’ve seen today, not knowing what stories like her story might come over the next couple years as a result of what God by His Spirit is speaking to hearts right now.

Will you bow your heads with me? As you bow your heads and close your eyes, I want to ask one fundamental question. Do you have abundant life in Jesus? If the answer to that question is not a resounding yes in your heart, then I invite you, right now where you’re sitting, to say to God in your heart, “God, I want abundant life. I know I’ve turned from Your ways to my own ways. I’ve tried to do life my own way. But today I believe that Jesus died on a cross to pay the price for my sins and that He rose from the dead. I believe John 3:16, that You so loved me that You gave your one and only Son that through believing in Him I might not perish but have everlasting life. God forgive me of my sin. Today I put my trust in Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I trust in Jesus for abundant, eternal life.”

When you do that, and for all who have, let’s join together in prayer in light of what we’ve just walked through in God’s Word as Farrah leads us now.

Farrah: Heavenly Father, we praise You because You’re worthy of all praise and worship. O Lord, You are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and truth. God, You are our salvation; only in You do we trust. We praise You, as You are our strength and our defense.

Lord, You are good and Your love endures forever. Your faithfulness continues through all generations. Lord, thank You that if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I ask for forgiveness for those who would call evil good and good evil, for those who hold on to darkness for light and light for darkness, and for those who are wise in their own eyes. Lord, please forgive the doctors and the staff in the abortion clinics who believe the unborn is just a clump of tissue that can be aborted. O Lord, I pray for their salvation. Please bring them out of their utter darkness and break away their chains. If only they knew the truth. If only they knew that all things are made through You and that You are the Creator of all things. You created mankind in Your own image and before You formed us in the womb, You knew us. We are valuable to You, even from conception. If only they knew of Your great mercy and of the living hope that’s available only through Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead.

Lord, the enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy, but You have come that we may have life and have it to the full. You are the Lord Who made all things, Who alone stretched out the heavens and the earth. We are also the work of Your hand. Thank You that before You formed us in our mother’s womb, You chose us and set us apart to serve You. Lord, thank You for the unborn. Thank You that You have formed their inward parts, that their frames are not hidden from You when they are being made in secret, intricately woven and knitted together in their mother’s womb. Wonderful are Your works, O Lord. Lord, I pray for women who are contemplating abortion. We don’t know their circumstance, but You do. This is a broken world and our hearts break for them. Let them know that You see them and that they are not alone.

Lord, thank You that when we’re in trouble and cry out to You, You save us from our distress. As the Good Shepherd that You are, O Lord, please hold their hands and guide them to seek counsel in places such as a Christ-honoring pregnancy center, before they make any decisions that can affect them for the rest of their lives.

And for those who are post-abortion, please give them reassurance that there’s help for them, that they do not need to live in guilt and shame. Please remind them that in You, O Lord, there’s no condemnation. Please let them know that You are their Helper, that You would never reject or forsake them. You are Yahweh Rapha, God the Healer. I have seen so many women who have gone through the post-abortion recovery class and have been transformed and healed by Your Holy Spirit and Your inerrant Word that is a balm for our hearts.

Lord, help the women who have gone through abortion to forgive themselves, just as You forgave them in Christ Jesus. Please help us not to condemn or judge women who are either contemplating abortion or who have had abortions. Help us to be kind and compassionate to these women. Help us not to pass judgment on one another and be stumbling blocks or obstacles for a brother or sister. Only You are the Judge; only You can pass judgment. Lord, thank You that You did not send Your Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world. Thank You that You are so kind to listen to our prayers. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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