A Change of Perspective

Long ago, I learned an important lesson about standing for what’s right. I’ll share it with you in the hope that you can avoid my mistake.

One Sunday, as parishioners exited the service, they stroked my ego with comments, such as “God used you today. Thanks for your courageous stand against abortion.”

I felt good about myself because I had been an enthusiastic spokesman for God on a controversial subject. The reactions were so positive that I made a mental note to preach on abortion again.

Then, as I did following every service, I went to my study to unwind. A young woman knocked on the door. I could tell she was troubled.

“Pastor, I know you’re tired, and I don’t want to keep you. But could you spare a few minutes?”

“Sure,” I said. To be perfectly candid, I expected more affirmation, anticipating that she would also comment positively about the sermon on abortion.

But she surprised me by asking, “Pastor, do you know how many women like me were sitting in the congregation today?” I thought maybe she was talking about the number of women who came to church alone.

“No, I really don’t. I don’t think I know what you mean.”

Then, like water from a broken dam, the pain from her own abortion gushed out. She graphically shared her sense of loss. She explained the agony she felt every anniversary of her unborn child’s death. She described how far from God she felt. Then she shocked me even more by saying that perhaps one in 10 women in her age group had had an abortion — and some were probably sitting in church during that morning’s sermon.

“You seemed so determined to communicate your pro-life message that you forgot about women like me who have lived through an abortion, but now regret it. You failed to realize that many men also feel guilty because they insisted on, or at least consented to, an abortion by their girlfriends or wives.”

That woman changed my life. She opened my eyes. She brought me to the reality of what it means to be a pastor — learning to hate sin more love sinners to Christ’s forgiveness.

My intent is not to recommend that you avoid controversial topics like abortion or the many other issues in our nation and world that need to be addressed. Bringing the light of Christ to bear on these subjects is a requirement of being a pastor. But, when you do speak against the tangible evils of this world, do so with compassion and the knowledge that some of those seated before you have been guilty of that sin, and have confessed it and left it at the cross, but are still living with the memories and consequences. They need to hear about the love God has for the forgiven as much as others need to hear about the judgment of God for unconfessed sin.

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47).


©2012 HB London. Originally posted Sept 3, 2012 on The Heart of a Pator Blog