At some point, we will all face the reality of a loved one near death, perhaps even suffering to some degree as they approach the end of this life. If we are in the bed, or it's our loved one, how will we make the necessary choices that surely come? If there is pain, do we end that life on purpose? What if they are mentally or physically handicapped? Does the life of a person who has lost their memory no longer have worth or value? The individualism of our culture now demands that each person, or their guardians, be allowed to chose how and when life ends. This, of course, is the result of no longer believing in a Creator God, one Who infuses this life with purpose and meaning beyond ourselves. In the absence of such, the meaning of life is determined only by its "quality", and so we now have groups of people behind closed doors deciding who is worthy of being cared for - or not. As the number of retired people explodes in the next 30 years, the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide will become all the more prevalent. 130,000 were euthanized last year in the UK alone. God declares an emphatic NO to this logic. Genesis 9:5–6 again reveals that we are made in His image and thus possess inherent worth and value. Not only that, but we are to protect the lives of our fellow human beings. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12 that those we think are weak - or who have "less honor" – are actually those with "special honor" - for by loving and serving them, we learn about the model and manner of Jesus. We are not merely "individuals" as the culture would have us believe, but we are part of a larger community – the Kingdom of God – through which God is working out HIs plan to redeem the world. Even when we are faced with hard or inexplicable situations, we still value the life that is before us and trusts the Sovereignty of God as He works out HIs good and perfect will, one which is not always known to us.
From this Psalm, George Handel crafted his famous Aria in The Messiah, "Why do the nations so furiously rage together?" We saw that rage in Charlottesville on Saturday - hatred and anger spewing from a false nation of those who espouse evil. It is the abject denial of Revelation 7:9, that glorious view of heaven containing people from "every tongue, tribe and nation." The gospel calls us to relationships of mutual understanding and love, relationships which Christians must pursue while standing strongly against the violence and bigotry. For that reason, I am grateful for my friendships with men like Bishop Allen T D Wiggins, Pastor Tim Johnson, Pastor William Andrews, and Pastor David DL Outing. Pastor Tim Johnson will preach for me at First Presbyterian on September 10, and I am honored to be Preaching for Bishop Wiggins at the Hope Church on August 27. We stand together, but that started years ago. We meet regularly. It is intentional, and God will use it for just such moments as these. For more on the responsibility we bear, especially in predominantly white churches, here is the link to my sermon on racism from April, 2016. Message: "Racism and the Gospel of Jesus Christ"