Saturday was a national day of protest against Planned Parenthood in light of the atrocities many have seen from the undercover videos released. I attended the one in my city and for the most part it was a peaceful demonstration for those who were there to defend the defenseless. There were a handful of pro-abortion supporters who came to deter us and drown out speeches, prayer, and hymn singing with shouting and loud music. Ironically it was music that demeans and degrades women. I saw their hostility and ugly signs and then it hit me. My heart breaks over the murder of unborn babies, but also for them. I cried behind my sunglasses seeing their anger, ultimately their hatred of God. Whispering prayers aloud (probably looking a little crazy), pleading with God to have mercy on their souls, to soften hearts, to save them, and break the heavy chains of unbelief. If only they knew the freedom Jesus gives.
We all need the life redeeming, death crushing, soul saving, and beautiful Gospel message of Jesus Christ. He is the One who rescues a condemned soul from the gates of Hell. Christians cannot change the mind of a pro-abortion fan until our Savior changes their heart. Only He has the power to do that. I realized then that it is not an “us versus them” mentality. It is not strictly about who wins the argument more than it is about believers speaking truth into the heart of the hardened when opportunity arises. Speaking words of wisdom and love, acting in kindness.
Grace and love are two of my favorite words because of Who and what they represent. If I am to be like Christ then I must practice these actions to others on a daily basis. Is it easy? Nope. Especially to those I feel don’t deserve it. But the truth is, none of us deserved God’s grace and forgiveness, and He freely gave it to us anyway wrapped up in salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus’ words are recorded in Luke 6 when He says, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you […] If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that […] Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:27-28; 32-33; 36 NIV).
John Newton is the man who penned the famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, in collaboration with William Cowper. What led Newton to write these words is a remarkable journey in itself. As a young man he was forced into the British Royal Navy. After a failed attempt to escape his fate, Newton was publicly flogged and demoted. He then requested a transfer aboard a slave ship. On the coast of Sierra Leone Newton was abandoned by his crew and became a servant of a harsh slave trader where he was relentlessly abused.
Newton was not a believer at this point and in fact led a rebellious life. He kept running from God, but the Lord continued to pursue him through various circumstances. One of those times occurred during a violent storm out at sea which threatened to sink the ship. Newton was captain of his own ship by now, and he was heavily involved in slave trade. In a moment of desperation he cried out for God’s mercy on him. He would later recall that moment in his life as a spiritual turning point. The wheels of grace began turning.
He continued working as a slave trader until 1754 after an illness caused him to hang up his seafaring ways for good. Newton applied for the Anglican priesthood in 1757 and became minister at Olney in Buckinghamshire in 1764. During this period of Newton’s life he met and befriended figures who had great impact on his spiritual growth- George Whitefield, John Wesley, and William Cowper to name a few. John Newton began to regret his time as a slave trader and recounted its horrors in tracts. He describes in detail the conditions of the ships and the life of a slave aboard the ship. Newton became an avid supporter and influencer in the abolition movement because of his personal experience and spiritual convictions.
‘Amazing Grace’ is a summation of his past life before Christ and the continued work of grace even after salvation. These are the first 3 verses to the beloved hymn:
‘Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.’
I do not minimize the sin of those who favor pro-abortion but I do maximize the truth of the Gospel because there is grace. There is forgiveness. There is redemption found in Jesus Christ alone. This is what is needed more than anything else. The tide of abortion can change with one heart at a time repenting and knowing Jesus as Savior.
“Then did the dead heart begin to beat,
the darkened eye glimmer with light,
the dull ear catch thy echo,
and I turned to thee and found thee,
a God ready to hear, willing to save […]
Then didst thou come to me in silken robes of love,
and I saw thy Son dying that I might live,
and in that death I found my all.
My soul doth sing at the remembrance of
that peace; […]
Grant that I may always weep to the praise of
and tell to others as long as I live,
that thou art a sin-pardoning God,
taking up the blasphemer and the ungodly,
and washing them from their deepest stain.”
(‘The Great Discovery’, The Valley of Vision, p. 112-3)
Grace upon grace,