For a lot of us, the first of the year means new resolutions and braving the cold of winter. But it’s also the time of year that many churches recognize Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.
The life of the church is built on rhythms, and at times, it’s easy to dismiss these annual designated Sundays as routine or unimportant. Maybe you’re a weary warrior in the pro-life cause, or maybe you haven’t given it much thought. Either way, on the Sunday that your church celebrates and honors the sanctity of human life, here are three things to remember.
1. You are fighting for life
Satan hates babies. Every newborn cry in the hospital’s maternity wing is a reminder to him of the Genesis 3:15 promise that God would raise up an offspring of the woman who would crush his head. This means that the sanctity of life is not primarily about the culture war; it’s about spiritual warfare.
When you hear a pro-life sermon, it’s a proclamation that we follow a Father who not only offers us eternal life, but also cares for every life on earth. The truths we embrace shape our affections, and our affections drive our actions. Our children, the most helpless and vulnerable members of our society, are dying. And as difficult as that is to hear, it’s true. But your efforts make a difference.
On Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, churches across America gather and pray that we’ll soon see the day when Roe v. Wade is overturned and elective abortion is no longer legal. But our efforts don’t end there. Countless thousands of Christians will spend the rest of 2017 fighting for life. From volunteering at crisis pregnancy centers, to serving as foster parents, to becoming the parents of orphans through adoption, Christians will spend this year fighting for life. This Sunday is an opportunity for you to take heart and join the fight.
2. You are recognizing human dignity
Every person is made in the image of God. Sanctity of Life Sunday enables us to remember that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. God sent his Son to die for people. This means that people matter. As your pastor opens the scriptures, prepare your heart to be stirred by the Spirit. Come ready to be reminded that life comes from the Creator.
Sanctity of Life Sunday should draw us to a holistic pro-life approach. Yes, we will relentlessly pursue the protection of women and children through the end of abortion. But that’s the beginning of what it means to be pro-life, not the end. We must also exemplify a pro-life perspective that cares for others made in the image of God who face marginalization—from orphans and trafficked individuals to immigrants and those with special needs. Sanctity of Life Sunday reminds us everyone is worthy of dignity in the eyes of God.
3. You are fulfilling the mission
Sanctity of Life Sunday is not a distraction from the mission of the church. Instead, the New Testament calls the church to be a people who manifest the kingdom through our words and works. We long for the redemption of hearts and the restoration of communities. When the church cares for widows, orphans and the vulnerable, it’s following the way of Christ for the sake of our culture.
Pro-life ministries often create opportunities to fulfill the Great Commission. Countless women have come to saving faith in Christ through counseling from pregnancy resource centers. Who knows how many babies that were spared from abortion have now come to know Christ and are themselves carrying the gospel to their next door neighbor or to the ends of the earth.
Sanctity of Life Sunday also reminds us of the shame of sin—not just of a woman who has had an abortion or a man who has enabled it, but for each person there on Sunday morning. Each of us has fallen short of the glory of God and are in need of redemption.
As you gather with your church to fellowship, sing, listen, give and pray on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, remember that you’re participating in a major effort to see the image of God honored in our world. Don’t let it pass you by or be routine. Instead, prepare your heart, lift your voice, engage your mind and resolve to make the pro-life cause something that matters all year long. Recognizing the dignity of every person and fighting for their right to live is one of the greatest ways that you can honor God with your life and one of the greatest needs in our world.