The pro-life campaign 40 days for life just ended. It was 40 days of seriously considering the abortion issue before God. Early in the 40 days I was outside a local abortion clinic just quietly considering the issue of abortion in prayer. As I was considering the issue of physical abortion, immediately the issue of the spirit of abortion and how it permeates our society and our lifestyle came to me. It was as if the Lord was saying that the most critical thing was to consider the spirit of abortion in my own heart that I could then have power on the issue of physical abortion. When we think of abortion we tend to think primarily of the brutal, physical act of abortion in the womb. However, this physical act is only the most brutal demonstration of a principle that is found throughout our culture.
At the root of the issue of abortion is the issue of pleasure and the free pursuit of it with no accompanying responsibility and no pain. This pursuit of pleasure becomes intense enough that we are willing to sacrifice even ourselves and others in our pursuit of it. I fear that this root runs much more deeply in us, believers included, than we know. Take a minute and just consider a few of the ways this spirit has quietly permeated our lifestyles.
On a purely secular level our approach to buying and selling has been affected. No longer to do we save or sacrifice for something that we need. There is always somebody ready to finance it quickly for us. There is no need to wait for some impulsive purchase that we believe will give us momentary pleasure. We can get it for 90 days same as cash with no payments, or if that fails we can just pull out a credit card and indulge ourselves now pretending that we will not have to pay later. The emphasis in much of our purchasing is getting what we want now. We rarely if ever deny ourselves in any way and so we live irresponsibly in our finances. This attitude opens additional doors for the spirit of abortion.
Do we ever consider the effects of our purchasing? Recently the popular clothing store The Gap was in the news because one of their contractors was making clothes using child labor in what was being described as a sweat shop. As Americans do we ever stop to consider that in order for us to buy our child a $10 shirt at The Gap, someone else’s child may be having to work 12 hours in an unsafe factory for $1 a day? Do we consider that the only reason we can afford that shiny new computer or electronic device is because there is someone in China willing to work for very low pay in conditions that we would never consider working in?
I know that international trade is a complex issue and bringing jobs to the third world is valuable in some cases, but we need to begin considering the effect of our lifestyle on the world. How much of the western lifestyle is made possible, and affordable, only because there are people in other places in the world that are required to work and live at radically different standards. These people can essentially become our slaves that we may indulge ourselves with no thought to the costs of our indulgence on others. I know this is not a simple issue, but I believe there is pain in God’s heart over the inequality that not only exists, but it also promoted in the capitalistic fervor around maintaining western lifestyles and consumer spending.
Consider the effects of this spirit in spiritual issues and how it affects our approach to God. It gives us great pleasure to know the forgiveness of God and to interact with Him. Likewise it gives Him great pleasure to know us and interact with us. However, far too often we simply approach God for the pleasure that He adds to our life and do not embrace the process of being transformed into His image. To be transformed into His image means great cost and pain as we realize how truly fallen our hearts are compared with His holiness and righteousness. Do we embrace the process of allowing Him to painfully transform us into His image? Do we remember that His own Son endured severe discipline that He might be pleasing to the Father (Hebrews 5:7-8)? Or do we simply approach God for the pleasure He gives us, but then refuse to take on the responsibility and cost of interacting with Him that we may truly be made into His image and bring Him great pleasure? As in natural life, our walk with God requires a painful pregnancy and delivery beyond the initial pleasure of salvation if we are to be made into His image. We must lose our worldy “figure” to birth what He desires to see in us. We minimize the cost to following God and underestimate just how much His kingdom is at odds with the kingdoms of this world.
I fear this spirit has also permeated our church relationships. We enjoy the pleasure of the programs and services of our local body. We also enjoy the fellowship of other believers. However, do we truly embrace the body or do we simply receive the benefits that we can from the body and then continue to live unto ourselves? There is a great cost to becoming the body of Christ. There is the painful process of being pressed together with other believers of varying talents, giftings, personalities, and levels of maturity. There are the needy members of the body, both spiritually and physically, that constantly make demands on us. Do we embrace the responsibility and pain of intimately dealing with each believer as if they were a part of our own body, or do we simply receive what pleasure we can from the local church and then continue in our self centered lives?
God Himself is the very opposite of this spirit. He embraces responsibility and pain because it represents true love. God receives great pleasure from redeemed mankind, and He expects us to receive great pleasure in our relationship with Him. However, do we ever consider the awful cost that God paid for us? When man rebelled God could have ended things right there, but He choose not to. He instead became a man, suffered and died. Have you considered just the great cost of God becoming a man? Do we ever consider that a third of God’s essence is now bound to a human body? This is the uncreated One who can be contained by nothing and yet a third of who He is is now contained in some way in this man Jesus. This is not something that God can undo. He took a third of Himself and bound it to a human body. He will be forever restricted in a way to the humanity that He took on. It is a cost that lasts forever. Add to that the treatment what He endured, and continues to endure, at the hands of men. And do not ever forget the agony of the cross. God choose to embrace pain and responsibility as part of His pleasure in interacting with us, refusing to simply discard us when the pleasure He had in His highest creation required the great cost of redemption.
Here is the secret. The price that you pay for a thing will reveal its worth. The pain and cost of responsibility is part of the pleasure. Consider two parents. One parent sacrifices and invests themselves in their child. The other parent does not and does the minimum necessary to raise the child. At the end of their lives, which parent will have the most pleasure in seeing what their child has become? The cost enhances the pleasure. In the west, we are looking for cheap, constant pleasures. We seek to eliminate every cost and consequence we can that we may indulge ourselves. We have high tech contraceptives and, if that fails, abortion that we can indulge ourselves sexually with no restraint or cost. We work to have rich tasting foods that every meal may be a pleasure and then diet fads to manage our figures. We live in such comfort that we can be cold in the summer and hot in the winter. Due to the magic of credit and credit cards, we never need to delay a purchase because there are not funds available.
What we do not realize though is that the pursuit of pleasure with no price attached ultimately means that the pleasure is cheap and leads to a destruction of our own humanity. We begin to live like animals, by the impulse, and no longer live as the most noble creation of God. This path then culminates in the brutality of acts like abortion.
Things that are valuable cost something. The spirit of abortion promises that you can indulge yourself in the moment at no cost and when we adopt that attitude it slowly takes over our heart until we are willing to indulge our pleasures at the costs of others whether it is sweat shop labor or the annihilation of a child in the womb.
I agree that we need to stand against abortion because it is truly barbaric and inhumane. We cannot let our voices be silent on this issue. However, like everything else in life, the physical manifestation has a spiritual root. Let us be just as aggressive to remove the spirit of abortion from our own hearts as we are to speak against the act of physical abortion. In embracing things like cost, pain, and responsibility, we will begin to take on the image of our God and there will be a richness and maturity on our lives that cannot be obtained any other way.