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Changing Everything

1/20/08

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"Did you ever tell a lie so big that it ruined/changed everything?" So asks a young man at a poignant scene in a movie. He asks about a lie ruining or changing everything, but everything changing is not necessarily a bad thing, is it? Ruining everything is. On this Sunday when we celebrate the sacredness of human life, we will talk about both change and ruin.

Lies do ruin everything, and the young man asks about telling a big one. There are big lies being told in connection with abortion. One is that the numbers don't matter. Each year we're told the number who die in traffic accidents, by murder, and from heart disease. When's the last time, outside of Life Sunday, you heard how many died from abortion? For example, KLBJ radio reported in December that each day in Texas 5 people die in alcohol related traffic accidents. That's one basketball team each day. That's 365 basketball teams each year wiped out of Texas. I've never heard or read in any media the number of Texans who die each day by abortion. It's 216. That's one church our size being murdered every day. That's 365 churches our size being wiped out each year in Texas. And that number doesn't matter enough to report.

Another big lie is that abortion isn't barbarity. It's an antiseptic, respectful, medical procedure. A sermon is not the place to give gruesome details, but the true barbarity isn't in the blood and the gore and the body parts. It's in the attitude of those who commit and have abortions. One of the Hebrew words for "womb" comes from the Hebrew root word for "mercy." When the fruit of the womb can be treated with such mercilessness as to murder it even neatly and cleanly, that's barbarity. When mothers may and do sue doctors for not successfully killing their unborn babies, that's barbarity. And it means we live in a country where nothing is wrong. Abraham Lincoln said, "If slavery isn't wrong than nothing is." If killing defenseless, unborn babies isn't wrong, then not only is nothing wrong but barbarity reigns.

Lies ruin everything, big lies really ruin everything. The really big lie our country has been telling itself for 35 years is that life in the womb isn't human. We tell ourselves the fetus, which is Latin for baby, isn't a baby. This was the lie the young man told in the movie. He and his girlfriend are sitting in the car. She puts his hand on her pregnant belly and says, "Do you feel it moving? That's our baby? Do you feel the baby?" He says, "No." That was his lie so big that it ruined everything, but I will tell you of bigger lies than this.

A bigger lie is that abortion is primarily a woman's sin. With the exception of modern feminism which champions abortion as an inalienable right, men leave women in positions where abortion seems the only option; men encourage them to get abortions, and men do the abortions. Women are not guiltless, but we who believe as Scripture states that "the man is the head of a woman" must come looking for the man even as God did in Eden.

This brings me to a bigger lie still: that we're getting away with this holocaust. We're not either demographically or theologically. You can't kill, as we Americans do, 3,536 people each day and not change your country. Between 1990 and 2000 New York City alone would've lost 600,000 in population if it had not been for illegal immigration. Moreover, not just the huge numbers affect us, so does the number 1. Who knows which child will be the one to mother, to father, to lead, to cure in the waning days of the world? Texas each day destroys 216 gifts of God without opening them.

We're not getting away with abortion demographically and we sure won't theologically. God never lets the shedding of innocent blood go unpunished. Cain didn't get away with it. The Canaanites didn't get away with it. The Carthaginians didn't get away with it. Neither did Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or Hussein. Because the mills of God's justice grind slowly, people think they don't grind at all. Cain lived decades before standing before God's judgment seat. The Canaanites had 600 years. The Carthaginians sacrificed their babies to gods for hundreds of years before the Romans defeated them. We haven't gotten away with anything. We are only increasing the amount of blood we will have to answer for.

These are the big and bigger lies that ruin everything, but the biggest one has yet to be told: abortion is unforgivable. It is the sin that forever stains a man, a woman, a boy, a girl. You can be forgiven for a lot of things but not baby killing. Here is the biggest of lies, and only God can preserve us from believing it and ruining everything.

Lies ruin everything; truth changes everything, but I'm not concerned with changing anything or anyone but those the Lord gives me to preach and teach to. The first truth is that the sin of abortion is ours. The truth is we are wrong when we see this sin as only belonging to others. The prostitute getting multiple abortions, the teen who hides her pregnancy to end it, the young man in college are all guilty, but no more than we. Remember when David killed the innocent Uriah? He could clearly see the sin of the man who wantonly killed his neighbor's pet lamb, but that did him no good. It was not until the prophet Nathan said to him, "You're the man," that David's guilt came home and could be dealt with.

"Behold, you're the man," I'm the man; we're the guilty party. Why? Because in reality only my life is precious and sacred. I must confess that my sinful nature cares only for me, myself, and I. I am Jonah who sits outside the gates of Nineveh mad at God for not destroying those worthless sinners while God cares not only about Nineveh's small children but the animals there. I am a son of thunder who thinks God has plenty of reason to send fire from heaven upon everyone but me.

You're familiar with the phrase, "There but for the grace of God go I." It was uttered by Rev. John Bradford in the 16th century. He said these words as he saw a criminal going to execution for his crimes. Yes, it's not that I am so pure and pious that I haven't committed an abortion. It's not because I have such strong faith or love for the unborn that I haven't paid for an abortion. It's not because you are so sanctified, religious, or faithful, that you haven't committed this sin; only God's grace has preserved us. In our hearts resides the same evil that's in the most impenitent abortionist.

When confessing sins, even on Life Sunday, we don't confess anyone's but our own. The sin is ours and so is the Savior from sin. He descended into the womb of a virgin to redeem life right from the get go. He could've come into the world as a toddler, a boy, a teen, an adult and left everything prior to that unredeemed. But He didn't do that. God the Son went through all the stages of gestation from zygote to embryo redeeming every stage of life that He assumed. Whether that life be the result of a sinful sexual act or is deformed, disabled, disfigured, the Lord Jesus wrapped His arms around it in the womb, and said, "You are mine."

The Almighty God loved life in the womb so much, that He descended all the way there to rescue it, to redeem it. He didn't think of it as "tissue," a "blob," as an it, thing, or body part. He thought of it as a person He originally created in His own image, as rightfully belonging to Him not to sin, not to death, and certainly not to the Devil. So our Lord Jesus came into the womb to redeem him, her, us, them.

That's the truth. God the Son became the Son of Man for unborn women and men, and the truth is that Jesus came out of the womb. He didn't only redeem life inside the womb, but life outside too. We can probably get our head around how God the Son could care enough about babies, helpless, cute, babies to come to their rescue, but people? The Lord Jesus came out of the womb to redeem people up to their ankles in baby blood, people who regard the unborn as not people, people who can murder people and not only eat during the day, but sleep at night, and laugh about their killing.

Jesus came into the world to redeem life outside of the womb in all it's deformed, hideous, ugliness. He did this by keeping the law beautifully. Poetry in motion was our Lord as He feared, loved and trusted God above all things. Poetry in motion was our Lord as He didn't sin against His neighbor in thought, word or deed. Poetry in motion He was: loving not only the unborn whom He couldn't see but the ugly, filthy sinners He could not only see but smell.

That's the truth isn't it? And what did this perfect life get Him? The cross, whipping, bleeding, damning and dying. People who have sinned against the unborn, and that includes us all, beat themselves up for their sin. Well your self-administered beating, even thought it goes on for years, is nothing compared to what God the Son suffered already for your sin. And while your beating yourself can never in a billion years satisfy you let alone God, one punch, one slap, one lash, one tiny drop of Jesus' blood forever satisfied God. Let it satisfy you too for your sins, all your sins. Jesus suffered, shed His blood and died to redeem you, to buy you back. He succeeded. Now go on home to Him.

The truth is that you've been redeemed from being damned by God, accused by Satan, and from self-administered beatings for your sins. This is the truth so big it changes everything. See how being redeemed changed Paul, Zachariah, Rahab, Ruth and Mary Magdalene? In the beginning we spoke of the young man who told the big lie that he couldn't feel his unborn baby. That lie enabled him to abandon both of them, and led to the ruining of his life. Lying about the reborn is just as bad as lying about the unborn. You've been reborn by the Waters of Baptism; they have brought to you the redemption Jesus won for you on the cross and rebrithed you into a whole different life. It would be a lie to say this isn't so. It would be a very big lie to say nothing has changed when in fact everything has. Amen.

Rev. Paul R. Harris

Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas

Life Sunday (20080120)