Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Sanctity of Life - A Good Friday Reflection

"Do we believe in the sanctity of all human life, or do we believe in the sanctity of some human life?" I read this quote recently from a movie trailer on the Terry Schiavo Story that is soon to be released. Now this is not a commentary on euthanasia but I love the quote because it goes to the heart of how we see and value human beings. The dictionary describes ‘sanctity’ as the quality of something considered so holy or important it must be respected totally. The thesaurus gives other synonyms for holiness as the quality of being sacred. Christians believe that life is a gift from God. Jesus showed in his teaching that all people should be valued with dignity.

Do we really believe in the sanctity of ALL life or just SOME human life? As I ponder this, my mind instinctively goes to my little sisters around the world especially those who live in Cambodia---young girls for whom a life of captivity and sexual enslavement is the world they only know. I think especially of those who the Lord has given me the privilege of interacting with in Cambodia. I call them my ‘little sisters’ because I believe it is important to personalize their journey. To see them as if they were my own daughter or my own little sister so that I might in some small way enter into their world and share their pain and stand with them. I believe the moment we begin to ‘depersonalize’ these little ones by focusing on the statistics ie: over 1.2 million children enter into the sex trade each years---we fall into temptation that the problem is too huge, that little can be done. We see them as numbers, facts and figures and no longer human beings. But this is why I love how Jesus responds to the multitudes. For Him all life was precious. No one was a statistic, He knows all of us by name. He knows everything about each one of us. All life for Him was sacred. All life was created by God and for Him. He never de-personalized and kept the crowds at a distance, but saw that deep within their hearts, the longings and struggles of harassed souls. He never avoided the places of pain or suffering. Going to the pool of Bethsaida and noticing the many who were sick with various maladies, he was not overwhelmed but rather reached out His hand of love and say ‘do you want to be healed.’ In Jesus and through Jesus, I am reminded that all of life is sacred. Every human being is sacred, treated with utmost respect and dignity. No one is overlooked, no one is marginalized. Everyone is valued---the healthy, the sick, the poor, the rich, the disabled, the broken, the socially inept, the paralytic, the leper, the demon possessed, the oppressed, the prisoner and yes even the perpetrators and the murders.

As I reflect on this, my mind wonders to the Cross---that rugged cross in which He died upon. The cross symbolizes pain and suffering --- emotions and feelings that we so often want to avoid by medicating ourselves or distancing ourselves from. But Jesus set His heart resolutely on Golgotha. How do you and I react to that? Perhaps we cringe and turn our eyes and heart away. But He turned His eyes towards the cross, for our sins both past and present. He turned His heart towards us and demonstrated through the cross the depth of love He had for us and the depth of suffering He was willing to go through for your sake and mind. He embraced a level and depth of pain, mocking, suffering and torture that we will never fully comprehend. This is the mystery of the cross and the words of a song we sang at our Good Friday service rings in my brain. It brings me back to the foot of the cross and reminds me of the price paid for my life. The song is called ‘Jesus Thank You by Pat Sczebel:

The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect Holy One, crushed Your Son
Drank the bitter cup reserved for me
Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You
By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end
Lover of my soul
I want to live for You

© 2003 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)

Jesus as I think of the words of this song, I am reminded that for you ALL life is sacred---You offered yourself as the perfect sacrifice to demonstrate how much you love every single one of us. The cross symbolizes the depth, breath, height and width of divine love that truly mystifies me.

But do we stop there? How quickly it is to forget and lose the awe and wonder of the Cross. But in these days, the Cross gives me a strange comfort and peace. For each Good Friday, I am reminded of the encounter I had with the Lord many years ago as He opened my eyes and revealed Himself to me in the most profound way that all I could do was cry and say ‘why would anyone die for me.’ The scales fell off and I discovered my worth and value in Christ. Amazing grace how can it be that thou my God would die for me.

For in the cross of Christ, I discover hope, meaning, purpose, healing and resurrection power. In the cross of Christ, I see the hope that is possible for those who the world does not value. For my little sisters in Cambodia who have been treated not as ‘sacred beings’ but as ‘sexual commodities’ I take heart knowing that in the cross their pain is known and through the cross, the shame, guilt, fear and trauma of their experiences can be healed and they will rise again to become a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendour. Today I cling to this truth as I received news of a little sister at the Newsong centre who I have not yet met but who attempted to commit suicide recently on two occassions. I pray that she will encounter the risen Lord Jesus Christ this weekend and in the days to come. That the despair, hopelessness and darkness that is overshadowing her soul will instead, give way to the truth that Jesus would and did give His life for her’s. That He values her and that she is worthy in His eyes and worthy of His love. That He is for her and she is more than a conqueror in Him. Oh Lord, hear the cries of this little one and come quickly to her as you come to all of us, carry her in your arms that she might experience your peace, your love and your tender compassion as you wipe away her tears and by the very stripes that you experienced on this day so many years ago when you were tortured, and beaten, may your very stripes be the healing balm upon her small body. Take her sorrows, take her shame, take her pain and take her suffering dear Jesus, and give her you peace. Oh Prince of peace, flood her heart with a fresh outpouring of your Holy Love, with a new song, flood her heart with the truth that though she may be struck down, she is not destroyed, for in you and through you, she has the resurrection power to rise to again from the ashes and experience new life with fresh hope in You. You have overwhelmed the grave Oh God, let her taste the victory of Calvary in a way that is meaningful for her at this time that she may look to you and say 'it is well with my soul, it is well with my soul.'

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