A Welcome for the Ashamed
All the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out (John 6:37).
The fear of rejection is a powerful one, because we were made to be loved. Having received a beautiful garden with everything they could ask or desire, including each other and even God Himself, the Scriptures tell us “the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). It is the last word in Genesis describing life as God intended it.
Just like Adam and Eve, we long to know and to be known for who we are. But we rarely let others know us as we are, for fear that if we did they would walk away. We are ashamed, and therefore we are not naked. And life becomes an effort to present ourselves in such a way that others won’t reject us. Just like Adam and Eve in fig leaves behind the bushes, we are ashamed, so we hide.
We should never underestimate the power of shame in abortion. Recently I read an article in the Human Life Review that explored the reasons women had abortions, and came across this quote by Georgette Forney, president of Anglicans for Life: “My abortion was not about birth control—it was about fear. Fear of ruining my current reputation and future dreams. Fear of people finding out I wasn’t a ‘good’ girl.” Georgette’s story is hardly uncommon. Abortion is often about fear. And, in particular, fear of rejection, whether from a family, a community, or a boyfriend. Perhaps even a church.
Which brings us to Jesus’ words this week in John: “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” Let’s break it down. Whoever. Meaning whoever, regardless of background, sin, emotional or mental stability, station in life. Comes. The Gospel holds an invitation—a hope and an expectation—for these “whoevers” to come to Jesus. To me. And, for those who come, Jesus’ promise is clear—he will never cast them out. Never. To say it differently, he will always welcome them.
As the Body of Christ, the church should be the one place where women and men can bring their shame and find mercy and grace to help in their need, where sinners are welcomed, without fear of rejection. If abortion is driven by the fear of rejection, what more powerful means of fighting in our abortion culture than being a community that welcomes people who have fallen? After all, aren’t we among those who Jesus promised, in coming to him, he would never cast out?