On Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Mike Noel unpacked what it means to be a "pro-life Christian." This speaks to the issue of the unborn and advocating for them but also much more. Here is how he defined what he meant:
A pro-life Christian is one who out of their devotion to God seeks to minister to others in all seasons of life especially to those who are in distress and need of care.
His main Scripture captured this well: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27).
James emphasizes what is "pure and undefiled before God the Father." As Mike said, "before God" is sometimes described as "Coram Deo":
Coram Deo literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God. To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.
R. C. Sproul
How to Be Involved
At the end of his sermon he gave us a number of ways that we can put this "pure and undefiled religion" into practice. He spoke of the number of people leading ministries in our church devoted to such causes: Scott and Lisa Moonen who lead our pro-life ministry; Eli and Dawn Ruhl who are involved with orphans in Uganda; Joy Sasser who leads our Safe Families For Children Ministry; Lou and Teresa Gregus who oversee our Side-by-Side Mercy Ministry; also Lou and Teresa and Mark and Sheri Schlax and their daughters Missy and Abby for their involvement with the Aqua Viva Children’s Home and School in Guatemala; and our involvement with Operation Christmas Child organized by Jonathan Reeves and Joy Stalker.
Getting input from these individuals he gave us a list of things we might do to be James 1:27 Christians:
- Get Involved With Safe Families For Children. This is a ministry that helps families in crisis with caring, compassion and community.
- Joy: I have walked beside her this last year and a half as she chose life for her baby but was scared to go-it alone again. Her daughter is now a thriving 17month old, The mother attended Jobs for Life and now has started a new career, she has a network of friends she knows she can call on just to talk or for help, she has improved her relationship with her mom, and is trusting God in new ways. Life isn’t easy but she has hope that wasn’t there before and she is not alone. (Visit orphans and widows). There is an information meeting on February 16th.
- Pursue Friendships - Seek to include others in your lives especially those who may be on the “outside” or lonely.
- Look For Opportunities For Those In Need - And seek to meet those needs either by doing it yourself or asking someone you know to do so. Pray for eyes to see. Jesus said the fields are white for harvest. (Ann’s eg)
- Remember “Functional Widows” - This includes single parents or women who are no longer married but not due to their spouse passing away.
- Remember The Lonely (solitary) - They are all around us.
- Get Involved With Aqua Viva: Our mission trips are going to continue every two years. You can also sponsor a child going to the school. https://aguavivahome.org/
- Get involved with Operation Christmas Child. Find a local collection site and be the point of contact; help pack boxes at SGC or go on the trip to the Charlotte processing center.
- Take A Side by Side Skills Survey - This does not obligate you but gives the S by S team an ideas of who has what skills as needs arise.
James 1:27 and Evangelism
Mike challenged us that this kind of service can have a powerful evangelistic impact. God loves to seek out those who are unloved, not seen, weak and “out of the mainstream” of our society. Our Savior demonstrated this for us. He ministered among the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the Gentiles, the lepers, the blind, the poor, robbers, the outcasts, widows. He came to seek and save the lost.
The early church grew in part because of their ministry and care to the poor and needy. They cared for them, love them demonstrating the gospel both in word and in deed. The early church was a powerful combination of radical service to the poor and a radical new lifestyle of holiness. Their evangelism grew out of that. Could essentially the same social project have a similar effect if it were carried out today?