The Strength of Our Service
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.’ So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (Numbers 6:22-27).
Abortion is, unavoidably, a political matter. Even more, it is a cultural matter. But more than that, it is a gospel matter. Abortion ultimately concerns God, and therefore concerns the church, pro-life work being one aspect of her work and witness. Accordingly, faithful pro-life witness depends upon the same things that any work and witness depend upon—the blessing of the Lord upon His people as we carry out the work He has given us to do.
The words of blessing, given above, must count as among the most precious words in all of Scripture. It was not a wish or a prayer, but rather a word from God, given by the priest to encourage the people by reminding them of God’s favor upon them. Let me suggest several implications of the blessing taken from its own language, not only for pro-life work, but all service undertaken in the name of Christ.
First, we serve from who we are in relation to God, as those who have been blessed by Him. Understanding this is critical, lest we minister out of our own need, or our own desire to be accepted or recognized. The image given in the blessing of the shining face of God indicates God’s gladness toward His people in Christ. Believing God’s face shines on us brings both strength to love and encouragement to persevere when the countenance of the world toward us is dark.
Secondly, we serve as those who in Christ have been shown grace and favor. The word for grace is a word that suggests favor freely given, not earned or deserved. Knowing we are saved by grace—not by our own righteousness or wisdom or strength or common sense—enables us to see the rest of the world as we see ourselves. Which will keep us from becoming Pharisees. The world can quickly spot the self-righteous, but may listen to and engage with the humble. God has been generous with us, and therefore we are generous with our neighbors.
Thirdly, we serve as those who are kept and protected by God. The keeping of the Lord spoken in the blessing above is well-reflected in verse seven of Psalm 121: “[T]he LORD will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life”. Being kept from evil does not mean that we will not experience disappointment or suffering, but it does mean that the Lord will give us everything we need to serve Him faithfully in not succumbing to hatred, despondency, or expediency. We rely not upon zeal or outrage or guilt or whatever, but upon Him.
Finally, we serve as those who bear the name of Christ. When the priests blessed the people, they put the name of the Lord upon them. The people were not their own; they had been bought with a price and belonged to God. That meant that they bore His name among the nations, loving what He loved, hating what He hated, and living accordingly. God’s people, then and now, share His heart and get their bearings from Him.
Israel was called to a witness that was larger than anything she should have imagined. She was to be a light to a dark world, a community of hope so that a world estranged from God could be reconciled to Him. She was to be a city on a hill, bearing testimony that life does not have to be as we see or experience it. She was to be a kingdom of priests, making plain the possibility of forgiveness and restoration to God and one another. This abortion-stricken world needs this—and nothing more. By the blessing of God upon His church, He has provided everything needed.