“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Tim 3:14-4:5
Courageous ministry occurs when we confront social evils related to delicate personal decisions. It is relatively easy to speak about world hunger or racial injustice because those are about other people.
But what is more private than being behind the curtain of a voting booth, questioning your sexuality, or visiting with your doctor?
Yet this is exactly where the pro-life cause takes us.
The risk of misunderstanding and losing friends is enormous! Mark Campbell writes (CareNet, March 16, 2016) that ministers express five fears that prevent their preaching about abortion:
- My congregation will think that I am being political.
- I do not want to be pegged as a crazy, right-wing conservative.
- I feel inadequate to address the issue of abortion.
- I’m already overwhelmed, and I know if I preach on the issue of abortion, it will open the floodgates of hurt and bondage, and I won’t be able to handle the fall out of the sermon.
- I am afraid I will alienate and drive away women who have had abortions.
The last point is a legitimate concern, which Paul addresses in the passage above. Notice what he wrote about complete patience and doing the work of an evangelist. Those aspects of ministry proceed from a soft heart that is full of grace. It is a matter of tone, and the desired ultimate goal of healing and redemption.
In a sense, it is never out of season to offer hope and deliverance.
Altogether, an effective strategy for courageous pro-life ministry might be this:
- Complete honesty about how difficult it is to speak about the subject.
- Making a clear distinction between the victims of abortion vs. the perpetrators of evil, including the religious and political enablers of death.
- The heart-felt offer of love and forgiveness in the name of Jesus for anyone that seeks him.
Prayer: Give courage to priests and pastors considering addressing their congregations about abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. Provide them with the wisdom to speak the truth, with both love and a firm commitment to the truth. Open the hearts of those listening, that they would be receptive to hearing the truth about Your gift of Life. In Jesus’s Name We Pray, Amen.
Written by The Rev. Michael Hinton