This piece is transcribed from Bishop Clark Lowenfield’s sermon at the AFL Prayer and Worship Service on Friday, January 21, 2022 at The Falls Church Anglican prior to the march for Life.
I’m thankful and joyful to be here with you today. I’m also thankful, as a bishop from Texas, that the Texas legislature recently passed legislation that addresses the right to life concerning the issue of abortion. And so, as a representative of Texas, I’m here to say, let’s keep going. Let’s keep bringing the message of life to our country and to the world.
Now, as I bring God’s Word to you today, I am more than aware that I am preaching to the choir. And I need to say this to you this morning. I know us. Whether I’ve met you or not, or whether we’ve actually conversed or not, I know us. I know what our hearts are. I know why we’re here. I know why the hundreds of thousands of brothers and sisters whom we will join with in just a little while are here. And, in some ways, we’re the choir.
And, as I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve been praying about what it means to be committed—both to this cause and to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. What does that mean right now for us at this time in our country’s history?
Because I must confess to you that, as I was coming here, I felt a certain amount of comfort—comfort in coming to this. I’ve been to this event many times. In fact, I’ve been part of this movement since I was the same age as some of you teenagers who are now joining it. And so I know what we’re about. I’m comfortable with that. I’m comfortable at how close we are getting, if God so wills, to correct what was done in Roe v Wade. I was even comfortable preaching to the choir.
Well, let me say to you—I learned a long time ago that you need to be very wary when you become comfortable. Years ago, I was actually in Charleston, South Carolina. I was leading a church there and had been there for almost 10 years. The church had been destroyed during Hurricane Hugo, and so I’d spent a great deal of time rebuilding it, and my wife and I, with our three beautiful little daughters, had just moved into a beautiful house. Then the Bishop of Texas called me and said, “Clark, it’s time for you to come back to Texas.” And I said, “Oh, Bishop Benitez, no. We just moved into a beautiful house, and we’ve just finished rebuilding Holy Communion Church. And, I’m sorry, I just don’t think God is calling me back to Texas.” There was a long pause on the other end of the phone. And Bishop Ben Benitez, now gone to the Lord, said, “Clark, sounds like you’re getting awfully comfortable.” And I spent three sleepless nights thinking about it. And then I called him back, and I went back to Texas.
C.S. Lewis once said, “I didn’t go to religion to make me comfortable or happy. I always knew a bottle of port wine would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
In fact, I believe that the Christian life is inherently supposed to be uncomfortable. The Word of God speaks to it. The disciples of Jesus are supposed to deny themselves, as is said in Matthew 16. We’re supposed to take up our cross, as said in Luke 14. We’re supposed to be the subject of persecution, as said in John 15. We’re supposed to be willing to sacrifice cultural comforts of home and even of family, as is said in Luke 9. We’re even to be crucified with Christ, as Paul says in Galatians.
But every part of the culture we live in is designed so that we are comfortable, that our default is to do what makes us happy. And that affects us every day of our lives. We oftentimes find ourselves losing touch with the reality of the discomfort that our Christian faith calls us to, even when we’re participating in godly causes. I found myself flying up here realizing that I had become too comfortable, even in this cause which I have believed in and have supported for so long.
I’ve heard many people ask over the last year, especially because of the legislation that was passed in Texas, what is the pro-life movement going to be like if Roe v. Wade is actually appealed? And I’m thankful that Georgette and others have begun to transition us concerning the sanctity of life several years ago, to see that it’s not just about being anti-abortion. But I will say to you that I’m not sure we have fully understood what our message should be if Roe v. Wade is actually repealed, and what our purpose is supposed to be.
So, how can you and I as followers of Jesus make sure that we aren’t too comfortable to make the transition? If Roe v. Wade is repealed, what’s your response going to be? As we march today, that needs to be a prayer in our hearts throughout this day. Lord, show me, if this is going to come to pass in just a few months, what are You going to purpose for me to do in the months and years ahead?
Those of us who have more gray hair will tell you that learning God’s purpose for your life, besides making a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, is one of the most important things you’ll ever do. In fact, our generation was very much affected by a book by Pastor Rick Warren called the Purpose Driven Life. In that book, Pastor Rick Warren begins with these simple words: It’s not about you. And then it goes on to basically unfold the reality that, if you’re seeking God’s purpose for your life, whether it be in the ongoing commitment to this movement or any other Christian cause, you have to start with the reality that it’s not about you. It’s about God. It’s about His Gospel movement in this world. It’s about His Son, Jesus, and how God and the Holy Spirit are now working amongst us. That’s what it’s about.
When I was first out of seminary, I was assigned to four small mission churches on a 300-mile circuit in West Texas. These small mission churches also had three missional churches down on the border of Mexico. We had taken over three Roman Catholic churches, and we went there to do Vacation Bible School and teach.
Toward the end of my time there, I was visiting all the people that I’d met and taught, learned with, and discipled over those years. And one of them was a fellow by the name of Rafael, who actually lived down on the border of Mexico with his three children, confined to his wheelchair. His wife had abandoned him years before, and he raised his three children from his wheelchair by himself. Rafael’s only means of sustenance and provision was wood carving. And the day I went to say goodbye to him, he handed me one of the most beautiful crucifixes I had ever seen in my life. And as he handed it to me, I realized that he could sell this and provide for his three kids. These kids oftentimes needed shoes or food, which I would take to them. So I said, “You could sell this, Rafael, and provide for your kids.” And he looked at me with anger, the only time I’d ever seen him look at me that way. And he said, “How dare you, Father, think that you are the only one that might bring the hope and love of Jesus?” Because what he was trying to present me was simply a symbol of his own ministry, his own purpose in
life. And, from that moment, I realized that my life as a priest, and now my life as a Bishop, had to be not simply promoting a message, not simply trying to inspire people, and not even simply bringing the hope and the life of Jesus to others. It had to be helping others do the same.
A number of years ago, I ran across a little tract by Dr. Dallas Willard, a great Christian philosopher, entitled The Cost of Non-Discipleship. Dr. Willard describes all of the costs that occur from non-discipleship, such as societal issues or cultural issues like abortion and confusion over marriage. And he said that every single one of these problems can be pointed to as a cost of non-discipleship, that the Christian Church alone, if she discipled, would never put up with things like abortion or the Supreme Court redefining marriage.
So, as you march today, as you contemplate what a post-Roe v. Wade world might be, ask yourself—are you prepared to not necessarily look for the next cause or even the continuation of the cause you think you’ve been part of? Rather, are you prepared to ask God, what do you want me to do in discipling someone else?
Our Psalm this day, Psalm 139, said to us this morning, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up. You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all together. You hem me in behind and before. You lay Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high. I cannot attain to it.”
Let me ask you a question, Christian. Do you believe that? Do you believe that God knows you even better than you know yourself? And if you truly believe that, because it’s God’s Word and you have been taught to believe God’s Word, no matter what purpose the Lord has for you in the months and years ahead, you must teach someone you love that this is God’s Word and that they must believe it, and they must live by it.
Lord Jesus, as we march today, some of us having done so many times before, some for the first time, I pray that we would have supernatural, spiritual visions of what You want for us as individuals, as youth groups, and as churches, and what Your purpose is for us today and in the months and years ahead, Lord. I pray for supernatural vision and inspiration this day, Lord. And all of God’s people said, Amen.
Categories: Abortion, AFL Publications, Bioethics, Emotional Health, Legal Rulings, Life SUMMIT,
Tags: 2022, Author: Bishop Clark Lowenfield, Awfully Comfortable, Life SUMMIT, march for life,