When the Church is silent, we have forgotten who we are (When the Church is Silent #1 of 10)
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (Exod 20:2).
The Lord constantly reminds His people of who He is. In the Old Testament, the Lord instituted the Passover as an annual reminder that He delivered Israel from slavery. In the New Testament, Jesus instituted the Eucharist “in remembrance of me,” so that God’s people would never forget that, in Christ, He delivered them from sin.
These feasts also reminded God’s people who they were. For Israel, the Passover would remind them that they were once slaves. Likewise, the Church in remembering Christ in the Eucharist is reminded of our own deliverance from the bondage of sin. In other words, when the Lord calls His people to remember who He is, at the same time He calls us to remember who we are.
Well, who are we? We can answer in word, acknowledging ourselves as sinners delivered by the blood of Christ. But it can also be answered in deed, by what we do or don’t do, and particularly what we do for our neighbor. Perhaps it is best said in the Old Testament, in a law that takes its bearings from the first word quoted above: “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Exod 23:9).
The ground for the commandment is Israel’s own experience of oppression and sojourning. Having known the pain of being an alien and oppressed people, they are called to be gracious to the sojourner and the oppressed. The implication is clear and carried throughout the Scriptures— recognizing who we are brings forth a response toward our neighbor. Have you been forgiven?
Then you will forgive, and willingly, as one forgiven a great debt (Matt 18:21-35). Have you been comforted? Then you will comfort others, for God “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:4). Have you been loved? Then you will love, remembering Jesus words, “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).
Often abortion is considered someone else’s sin by those not directly involved. Not only does such thinking shut down our witness, rendering us incapable of being a blessing to the hurting or the hardened, but it reveals that we don’t know who we are or remember who we were. If I have not directly participated in abortion, there is much in which I have directly participated, and I know fear and selfishness and bondage to sin. In other words, I am really no different than my neighbor. My sin may have different outward expressions, but just like my neighbor, I need to be delivered.
If you are in Christ, then you have been vulnerable, enslaved in sin, and God has mercifully rescued and freed you (Rom 5:6-11; Eph 2:1-10). And therefore you will love the vulnerable, the fearful, and the sinful, because you know your own vulnerability and fear and sin. This will include the unborn child and the mother and father, even when they are in crises of their own making, and due to their own sin and/or their own poor choices. Because you love the vulnerable and those enslaved in sin, you will speak, and you will serve. For our neighbors are us.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:10-12).