Listen as rapper, author, and preacher, Trip Lee, shares the biblical foundation for life issues.
Hey, how you doing, everybody? My name is Trip. I’m really excited to be here. I’m going to pray that God will give us grace, and we’ll get started.
Father, we pray in Jesus’ name. We thank you so much for this opportunity to look into Your Word, to hear what You have to say to us, Father. And we pray that as we do, You would help us to see who You are more clearly, to see who we are more clearly, Father. God, give us a foundation that helps us to have these conversations, to speak about these things, to work alongside one another for these things in a way that honors You. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen.
I’m excited to get to be here to talk about standing for life. And part of the reason I’m excited about it is because this is a difficult thing to talk about. We’re living in a time, culturally, where standing for life can be very difficult, and depending on what your background is, the people you’re around, how you grew up, different aspects of standing for life may be more difficult.
Talking about the value of Black life may be uncomfortable for people around you. Talking about the value of unborn life may be more uncomfortable for you. Talking about the value of immigrant life may be more uncomfortable for people around you. Whatever it is, we do live in a time where these conversations can really get pretty heated, pretty quickly. And so sometimes what happens in those hard conversations is it really makes us want to step back from it altogether because it seems like nobody agrees on it.
And it seems like whenever it’s brought up, it does more to divide than to actually get anything done. So, we may be tempted to say, “Let me just pull back.” Part of what I want to do in the brief time that I have is to give you a foundation for why we should not pull back from talking about these life issues.
And what I also want to do is give a foundation for how we should have the conversation. One of the reasons these conversations about the value of human life are so touchy in our culture is because we don’t really have a great foundation for how we often begin them. When we let our culture and all this division and all this dissension shape and frame the conversation from the beginning, it shapes how we’re going to have that conversation as we go.
And so what we want to do, is we want to see what kind of foundation does Scripture give us for how, for why we should want to stand for life, for why we should press forward even in difficult circumstances. So, I thought a good place to be was in Psalm 139, exploring who really knows us best.
I’ll tell you just a little bit about me first, and then I’ll read a little bit from Psalm 139. I’ll tell you that growing up, there was a phrase that my dad used to use all the time that drove me crazy. Now, he said a lot of stuff that drove me crazy, but this one in particular, he would say, “Boy, I know you better than you know yourself.”
He would say that to me all the time. I wonder if any of y’all’s parents ever said that. But whenever he said it, it was like a trump card he could throw down that meant he automatically won any argument that we were having just by saying, “I know you better than you know yourself.” I say, ” Dad, I don’t want to eat meatloaf for dinner. I don’t like it.” He would say, “No, you will eat it, and you do like it. I know you better than you know yourself.” Conversation over.
I might say, “Dad, I know I gotta drive far, but I promise I’ll drive safely. I won’t be too tired to drive back.” He said, “You will fall asleep in five minutes and crash and die. I know you better than you know yourself.” And before I had a chance to tell him I was wide awake, he knew the future, said he knew me better than I know myself. And the funny thing is, a lot of times he was right. He had an unfair advantage. He was very old. He was around when people started having TVs in their houses. Very old man. So, he has some advantages.
But in light of that, there’s a difficult thought that popped up because he was right sometimes and knew more than I did often is this: you don’t know yourself as well as you think you do. I want you to follow me. We’re setting some foundation.
I want you to understand this: you do not know yourself as well as you think you do. Sometimes we think if we know anything, we know ourselves, but what I want you to know is this: you’re not even the expert on you. And because we don’t know ourselves, we misunderstand how we’re supposed to live, and we misread our own motives and situations, and we misread other people.
And then so, sometimes we don’t like somebody just because we’re insecure, and we think it’s because of them. But the fact that we don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do, makes some of that stuff hard to see. And so, my dad, the reason that he would say that to me in the first place, that he knows me better than I know myself, is because I thought I was in control, and I was giving myself way too much credit.
My dad would say that to put me back in my place. And here’s why I bring that up first. In a similar way, we assume that we are in complete control of our own lives. We make decisions. There are consequences. And it’s true we do have control over some things, and our actions have consequences. But we mess up by way overestimating our control, way overestimating the amount of authority that we have in our lives, and it’s when we do that, that everything goes wrong.
So, I want to read from Psalm 139 and this is what the psalmist says. This is what David says in verse 13. He’s speaking to God. He says, “For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
That’s God’s Word. And the key to having these conversations with the right foundation is the understanding that God knows us better than we know ourselves. God knows us better than we know ourselves.
And the key to it is asking ourselves, what is a human being? Who are people? Who are we? Who are others? And God is the right one to help us think through that. In this whole, in that text, in Psalm 139, David is talking about how God knows everything.
A word that sometimes people use for this is omniscience, omni meaning all and knowledge. God has all knowledge. One of the first lessons that we are taught in our world is that we don’t know everything. This is something I’m trying to teach my son all the time. I’m like, hey, I know you’re really smart, but if you’re a know-it-all, nobody’s going to like you.
If you want friends, you can’t pretend like you know it all, all the time. So, reign it in. Here’s the thing about God. He does not need to reign it in. God does actually know everything. The problem with pretending to know everything is that human beings don’t, but there is a God in the heavens who actually does know everything.
And David takes his whole psalm just to reflect on it. But here’s the thing, as David does this, it is not like a theoretical Ph.D. dissertation on how God knows everything. It’s almost like more of an intimate love letter. It’s more relational and close and personal. David is reflecting on how God’s perfect knowledge impacts his own life.
It’s like a love song. So, as we read this, I want you to imagine Stevie Wonder singing it, or whoever your favorite singer is. He’s in this beautiful way, pointing how God knows everything. He’s saying, “Lord, you know me. You know everything. You’re present everywhere,” pointing out that God knows us better than we know ourselves.
I want to point out three things that we see about that in this psalm that are going to help us to have a good foundation for how we have these conversations and who human beings are. The first one is this. Number one, we’re made by God. One of the things we see in this reflection is that we were made by God.
Again, verse 13, “You created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” David is amazed at how he was made, and he wants to give credit where credit is due. Y’all know that’s what praise is.
Praise is using our words to recognize how good something or someone is. This is why me and my friends will watch a basketball game, or we’ll watch some clips, and we’ll send them to each other like, “Can you believe the way that Steph Curry made that incredible shot? Can you believe how John Morant dunked on them?”
Praise is seeing something amazing and then expressing it. That’s what David is doing. And one of the most basic truths about the universe and about us that is blowing David away is that we were made by God. Now, of course, this will continue to be argued about in books and in classrooms and on Facebook or wherever.
But it is no less true now than it was at the beginning of the universe. But what we want to know is how does it fit into this psalm about how God has this intimate knowledge of us? I’ll just say this: Where we came from says a lot about who we actually are. I want you to imagine something for a moment.
I want you to imagine, where’s my phone? I want you to imagine that this iPhone. Now people think I have an iPhone 8 or something. This is just a mini. Okay, it ain’t an old iPhone. Let’s say you found this iPhone on the ground in 1985. You would see it on the ground. You would have no idea what it is whatsoever.
It would just look like a strange little rectangular box. You may take it home and you may use it as a coaster. My phone’s small. It may have to be like an espresso glass or something, but you may use it as a coaster. That would be a complete misunderstanding of it. Now, if people did want to know what it actually was, how could they go about identifying it?
It would be very tough to do. I’ll tell you what people would do. They would take shots at it. Maybe they would come around and have discussions about it. They could write papers about it. But unless there was a way for them to talk to the people who actually made the device, they would have no idea whatsoever.
And this is essentially what we’ve done with ourselves as humanity. We have decided: I want to have a discussion about who human beings are without actually consulting the person who created us, without actually consulting the God who gave us purpose, the God who made us in His image. This is part of why when David begins to talk about us being made by God, it says something about who we are as human beings. And this is the problem with knowing ourselves, is that when we forget we were created by this all-knowing God, we put ourselves on the throne, on His throne.
We decide we’re in control, that we have the final say, we have the final authority. We get to think and decide what it is we’re here for, what we do, our purpose, what our best features are, and time and time again, we come up with bad answers- that we’re just an accident, or maybe we’re just like the rest of the animals, or that some of us have dignity and others don’t, or some of us have a lot of dignity and others have just a little bit, that some deserve more than others do.
Every sin against someone else and every sin against ourselves happens because this truth that we are made by God hasn’t really fully sunk in because it has implications on our lives. It has implications on our lives. But this psalm doesn’t just say that God made us. David is also talking about how God made us.
One of the things I love about this text is how David describes God making us. Sometimes because of how the creation accounts are written, we assume that God just threw us together real quick. That He was just like, “Hey, let’s just make some people.” And then they were there. No big deal. He didn’t really take his time. He still had the rest of the day to chill and binge-watch something on Netflix. But we should not mistake God’s creation power for laziness. Just because it didn’t take God a long time and He didn’t need help from anybody, doesn’t mean He just threw us together.
Verse 13 says, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” That word gives us the impression of God weaving us together. I wonder if you’ve ever seen somebody knitting before. You ever seen somebody doing it? That might be crocheting, but you know what I mean. You ever seen somebody knitting? They’re doing this very intricate motion over and over and over again.
And what happens is that takes a lot of care and time and attention. It’s not just thrown together. Your grandmother may have knitted you a sweater or some gloves when you were little. And, maybe the knit wasn’t that tight so the cold got in anyway, but it was the thought that counted and it took a long time.
But then, for instance, at home, I have this sweater, this cable knit. And there are thousands of places with different parts of fabric meet over and over again, even with intricate design in some places. And what that says to me is, this took a lot of time and effort and was expertly made.
One of the things that David says when he says, “God has knit us together,” is that God did not throw us together haphazardly. When I look out upon crowds and I see faces, I know God did not create us haphazardly. He took time and care and attention. And He continues to praise God for how He made us.
Verse four. He says, “I praise you because I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” So not only did God make us carefully, but He also did a good job when He made us. When he says, “Your works are wondrous, I know this,” he’s saying, “God, I’ve seen your work. I know the level of work you do. You don’t do things halfway.” He’s saying, “God, You made sharks and elephants and insects and mountains and You made us.”
This is almost like if you had a favorite artist. I already brought up Stevie Wonder. So, let’s say Stevie Wonder, he’s the songwriting GOAT. His catalog is amazing, writes all these beautiful songs. Songs in the Key of Life is like a greatest hits album. Every one is amazing. He’s your favorite creator. And then you find out he knows you personally. You would feel honored to say, “Wow. Somebody I know who created all of my favorite things knows me.” David is reflecting on the fact that his favorite artist, his favorite creator, the creator of the universe, God Himself, knows him.
He knows and loves His work. And beyond that, beyond saying, “I love His work and He knows me,” David is saying, “I’m one of His works. I’m one of those incredible songs He wrote. I’m one of those incredible things He spoke into existence.” So just like we know your favorite artists write with every melody, with purpose, God takes his work seriously.
So that means your brown skin was on purpose. And that means that your green eyes are on purpose. And that means that every aspect of who you are was on purpose. Your long legs or your short torso. I got a short torso. It’s unfortunate, but God did it on purpose. All of it was on purpose.
I remember being in art class in middle school, and everything I made was terrible. This terrible pottery I spent four seconds on, and I was cracking jokes with my friends. And I gave it to my mom, and she was like, “Oh, this is beautiful.” And she cherished it. And she thought I spent all class, and I spent five minutes. She had no idea. That’s my mom being biased. I want you to know that when we talk about David talking about God’s work, there is no bias. The greatest creator of all time.
He praises God for His wonderful work. God has done amazing things, and among those wonderful works of God is us. And to assume that human beings may be the exception to everything God has created is ridiculous. Because human beings are incredible. Doctors are still trying to understand the complex system that is the human body.
Recently, I got a new tattoo, and what happens is the wound scabbed over, it healed itself, and it’s like nothing happened. A few years back, I had a tear in my lung, and it allowed air to escape into my lung cavity. It could have collapsed my lung, but when I went to the emergency room, all they said is, “You just sit there.” And my body healed itself. It sealed itself up and it fixed itself. The body is incredible, more complex than any computer.
My infant son, I got a two-year-old and, he’s just figuring stuff out. He’s saying new words every day. God has just built incredible things. For some reason, he hears us say something. He hears us say a word like cool. And then he’s like, “I want to say cool.” And he’s like, “Oh, somehow I figured that if I put my tongue in the back of my mouth and touch the top of my throat, I can make that sound.” And oh, there’s a brilliance and an intelligence. So, all creation was made well by God, but I want you to know there is something very special about how God made us.
It’s not just that our bodies can heal and all of that. The thing that is incredible is that we are made in God’s image. We are made in the image of God. I wonder what comes to mind for you when you think about being made in the image of God. It’s a strange phrase. It’s a tough concept to understand because we’ve never seen God.
I can’t picture a statue of Socrates because I don’t know what Socrates even looked like. So, if I did, I would just be imagining a random Greek dude because I don’t really know what he looked like. So, image of God sounds weird and very abstract. It sounds like saying, it sounds like dry paint.
Dry paint doesn’t sound like anything. I’ve never heard paint. I don’t know. So, it’s clumsy. It’s confusing. And it also sounds strange to talk about people being made in the image of God because when you look at your clumsy friend trip down the stairs, or you look at your little brother pick his nose in the corner, deity isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
People do not always seem very God-like. So let me show you where we get that from Scripture. In Genesis chapter 1, we get this just amazing, poetic account of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth. It’s this incredible story of God’s display of power. He’s not like us when we make stuff. We have to gather materials, and then we have to think about it, and we have to read instructions, and we have to go back.
What happens is, God simply speaks things into existence. He says, “Let there be,” and those things come into being. He is so powerful that His simple speech manufactures complete species.
And then you contrast that with us, the way we acquire parts, gather tools, try to follow instructions. You open an Ikea thing and be like, this was obviously written in Sweden. I don’t know what they’re talking about. And these pictures don’t help. Nobody’s shaped like that. When people make stuff, we create something from a bunch of other somethings.
God is different. God made everything from nothing. And then He used what He made to make more. We could spend this whole time just reflecting on that. But as we think about Genesis 1, God’s first workweek, we start to see a pattern. “Let there be,” and it comes into being, and then He calls it good. But then when He got to human beings, that pattern changed.
It was something extra added to the pattern. He said He makes us in His image. Genesis 1, verse 26, “Then God said, ‘let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image. In the image of God, He created him. Male and female, He created them.”
So, it drops that bomb on us that we’re made in the image of God. But what does that mean? Does it mean, we’re exactly like God? I remember Erykah Badu in the 90’s said, “If we were made in His image, then call us by our name.” I’m insinuating when you’re like, we’re gods, too.
Does it mean that God has a face, arms, and legs, and He made us like that, too? Does it mean we’re perfect as we are? I think that’s hard. And it’s hard because we know there is something divine about us. Rappers love to make this point, call himself the God MC, all of these kinds of things.
But the Scripture is really clear. We are not gods, but Scripture is clear that we are like God. We’re not gods, but Scripture is really clear that we are like God. Now, here’s the other thing that can be confusing, is the Bible doesn’t give us this long list of like, “Oh, here are… This way you’re like God, and this way.” And so, we can speculate in some ways, like maybe particular kinds of intelligence and some of those things. But the main point the Scripture wants us to know is that we are like God in a way that nothing else in creation is. We are a reflection of Him.
We live in the age of selfies. And when someone stares at your selfie on social media, they’re looking at you. They look through your timeline. They see a picture of you. They’re staring at you. But you don’t feel them staring at you. You’re not in the same room, because that is a representation of you. But they are still looking at you. So, people can look at that, and see what you’re like. And in the same way, we are not God, but we are representations of Him. We’re like Him in a unique way, and that is a massive part of who you are.
In the ancient world, kings would often put statues of themselves in their kingdom so that as citizens walked by, as citizens saw that, they would understand, “Oh, this is a representation of that king’s rule here. He may not be standing in front of me, but I understand that his authority is there.” And in the same way, God has done that with us. We are these representations of God that God has created, and He has set all over creation to remind all of creation about His authority and about His rule because He is the king.
Sometimes we sleep on what it means for other people to be made in the image of God. It’s like we’ve become way too familiar to really understand what it is we’re looking at. We don’t really appreciate it.
I remember when I was in high school, I got to go to Italy with my friends. I don’t know why I was able to do this. They shouldn’t have let me. I wasn’t mature enough, but me and my friends go to Italy. We are in the Sistine Chapel, maybe the most beautiful art of all time. They specifically say, “Do not take any flash photography.” Now let me tell you, we’re just going around Italy, laughing, eating pasta, and being fools.
And we’re like, “I don’t know, it looks just like the picture in the book, okay.” And so, we’re just playing around. So, we take out our disposable cameras, and we start just taking flash photography right behind the security guard’s heads and stuff, laughing. Let me tell you, we got thrown out of the Sistine Chapel.
Now, in hindsight, I would love to go there now. I would be actually able to appreciate the art and the culture and everything that happened. But even though I was right in front of it, the beauty of it hasn’t changed at all. But if I was right in front of it now, I would approach it much differently.
I have different eyes to see. What I’m saying is that your mom, your brother, your sister, your friends made in the image of God, representations of Him. And so this not only impacts how you think about yourself, that you’re an image bearer of God with value and worth, but everybody that you come across is an image bearer with value and worth.
I was overlooking what made that painting precious: its beauty, its historical significance, who painted it. And I want you to know there are masterpieces all over creation that are beautifully made. Of course, the historical significance, we are the crown of God’s creation and who painted it, who made it: God Himself. And what the painting portrays, what we portray, which is God Himself.
People are incredibly valuable. Our goal should be to see people the way that God sees them. I know y’all are thinking, “Wow Trip, this is your first point.” It’s okay. My first point is always the longest. Our goal should be able to be seeing people the way God sees them.
And this is a foundation for how we have the rest of these conversations. Because then it begins to impact how you think about what a human being is made to show off the glory and the goodness and the authority and the dominion of the Creator of all the universe. That’s what a human being is. And so, then we want to ask ourselves, how would, if we want to see people the way that God would see them and treat them the way God did, how would we know?
Well, of course we know, because God Himself became a man, and we want to look at the way Jesus interacted with people. God allows us to reflect Him in the way that we treat other people, and it’s an amazing gift. And He allows us to reflect Him by also reproducing and making other people made in His image.
And what we want to do is, we want to treasure and value all human life. Our culture is always teaching us to be discontent. We need more. We do not have enough. Here’s the thing. I think we think there’s something we have to reach in order to reach worth and value or that other people have to reach to say, “That’s a person, but look at all the ways that they messed up. Look at the mistakes they made. Look at where they came from.”
I want you to notice the most important thing about you is not something unique about you. It’s not a unique gift. It’s not something you will achieve. The most important thing about you is something that you’ve had from the very first day of your life and that you’ll always have, that no one can bestow upon you, that no one can take away from you. And that is that you are made in the image of God. The most important thing about any other person, you’re not waiting for people to demonstrate their worth and value to you. They are made in the image of God, and that has to impact the way that we interact.
Some of us think too little of ourselves. We think we’re nothing. I want to remind you, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And many of us think too little of other people. I want to remind you, they are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Anytime we do that, we’ve just forgotten who we are. The other thing is some of us think too much of ourselves. One implication of being wonderfully made is we are wonderful. We are intelligent. We’re capable of a lot of things. And we can give ourselves too much authority.
This is where when we begin to think about the lives of the unborn, we have to think, “Okay. God has given us some authority and dominion. Has He given us the authority and dominion to decide which image bearers should have the opportunity to reflect the image of God? If God has made image bearers to reflect His image, what we do when we take the life of the unborn is, we snuff out an opportunity for the glory and the goodness and the beauty of God to be reflected. And He has not given us the authority to do that. This is also how some people decide that we’re the ones who get to decide who gets treated with dignity and love and kindness.
I read this introduction to a book that talked about a poet. It talked about Phyllis Wheatley, one of the first poets who was able to write beautiful poetry, a Black woman. They did not believe that she wrote it. They said, “You know what, there’s no way this Black woman could have wrote this poetry.” And the thing they were afraid of, and this is also why they also wouldn’t let slaves read, is because they were afraid, “If we know they can read, and they can produce art, then we have to admit they’re human and we have to give them dignity.”
What I want you to know is that there’s not some particular task or skill. They made her come before them and write a poem in front of their eyes. They were so afraid to admit that Black people were real human beings with dignity made in the image of God. You do not have to wait on anyone to bestow worth and value on you, and you don’t have the authority to decide what other people have worth and value and a chance to live.
The most important thing about us, number one, we were made by God. God knows us better than we know ourselves. Number two, I promise the other points will be shorter. We were made by God. Scripture is also really clear in terms of how we treat each other. Scripture talks about murder. The reason that murder is wrong, taking another human life is wrong because we’re made in the image of God.
If I came to your house, if you came to my house and you saw a picture of my mom, and as soon as you saw that picture, you picked it up and you threw it on the ground, you started stomping on it, you lit it on fire, I would be like, “What did my mom do to you?”
You’d be like, “Oh, I don’t have any problem with your mom. I just didn’t like that picture.” Of course, you have a problem with my mom. That’s a picture of my mom. And we think that we can just decide to treat those made in the image of God who reflect Him in any way to destroy them. And it says nothing about how we feel about God. It’s false. We’re made by God.
Number two, we’re known by God. God knows us better than we know ourselves. We’re made by God, we’re known by Him. I wonder if anybody babysits or has babysat in the past. I’m hoping that only the women in the room say yeah because no one asks dudes to babysit, and they shouldn’t either.
But when people babysit, you keep your eyes on things that are in your care to make sure nothing happens. All of creation is in God’s care, and He keeps His eyes on all of it. And that’s including you. He didn’t just create everything and let it go. He is intimately aware of everything that’s going on, every single part.
Look at verse 15. He says, “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in a secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” When he talks about the depths of the earth and the hidden place, we think he is talking about as God knit him together in his womb. Remember he said, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” He’s saying, “Even while I was in the womb, You saw me and You knew me.
When me and my wife had our kid, my son… We found out she was pregnant on a Saturday night, and she took a pregnancy test. It was positive. We were overjoyed. We were skipping around the house because we didn’t know how he was going to terrorize us for the next 18 years. We still got a lot of years left and two more.
But we were overjoyed. And so, what happened immediately is she took a test on Sunday morning, and then we made an appointment, and that next Tuesday we were able to go to the doctor’s office, and we heard my son’s heartbeat that day.
Now to me, doctors did that sonogram. We heard a heartbeat. It was incredible that we were able to hear it so soon, by the time that we realized that maybe she was pregnant. After that, we were blown away. We know there’s an actual person in there. God knows. We see him.
And then I had an app that would tell me about his development every day. It’d be like, “Today your son is the size of a lima bean.” I’d be like, “Oh, that’s a strange comparison, but thank you,” or “Today he’s the size of a quarter.” It’s like, “I don’t know how to shape right here, but thank you for that.” Now, let me tell you, God doesn’t need an app to tell him what’s going on with a baby inside the womb because God already intimately knows that baby.
God is the one knitting that baby together. God has that intimate knowledge. And so, sometimes it’s hard for us to remember that that is a human being made in the image of God, who God already knows, that God already has a relationship with. But I want you to know that the way that our eyes are blocked by flesh and blood and we can’t see in there, God’s are not.
He sees them. He’s keeping them. He’s caring for them. So that impacts the way that we think about babies in the womb. It’s a beautiful gift from God that we don’t always receive. And there’s no reason scientifically, biblically, or logically, to wait until somebody has been born to assign them dignity, to assign them rights and worth and value.
Now, when we begin to talk about abortion, it is a sensitive topic. But where Scripture speaks really clearly, we want to be faithful. This is not a random political or partisan issue. This is the problem with starting where our culture starts it. The conversation should begin at what a human being is and the way that God talks about them.
He says, “made in the image of God,” “the crown of creation,” “beautifully and wonderfully made,” and “I already know you when you’re in the womb.” And so, as God says this, it should shape how we think about the issue. Our culture assumes that the only thing that an abortion conversation can be about is, controlling women’s bodies.
But that’s because there’s a gap between understanding what a human being in the womb is. This is not about controlling anybody. We can’t start the conversation there because, of course, if we don’t agree that this is a human being made in the image of God, then every part of the conversation after that will seem like we’re just after some strange control.
My goal is not for us to get in a bunch of random culture-war fights. My goal is for us to treat human beings the way that God does, to value the things that God does. And some people don’t take us seriously when we have these conversations, because if we’re honest, we do not approach this conversation from valuing the things that God does and loving the things that God does.
We began it at a political place from those around us or a cultural place. And then maybe at some point, we decided to baptize it and find some Scriptures to proof-text it. And what I want you to know is, when we show really clearly that, maybe we sound passionate about the lives of the unborn, while also ignoring every single life outside of the womb, it means every single word we say rings hollow.
Now, if you really care about the image of God, then of course that’s not going to stop at the child itself. What about the mother? This is one of the things about this conversation that I think is not often very helpful. So, here’s one of the things I want to say. If you want to value people the way that God does, I want you to listen to, to have conversations with, to read articles from, to read books from women who’ve been in difficult situations with pregnancies that weren’t expected and were not desired.
It’s very easy to demonize someone and to assume all the worst motives and to not understand where they’re coming from. But here’s the thing. We cannot say, “I care so much about the lives of the unborn that I’ll do anything, but I’m not even willing to listen to the life of this mother in front of me.”
And until we actually care about the image of God and we show it with our actions, all of our words will ring hollow, and we will just confuse ourselves. If we’re really made in the image of God, it impacts how we think about ourselves and how we think about others. We don’t want to be hypocritical.
I heard a political leader recently speaking to a group of young people talking about pro-life situations. And he said, ” These pro-choice women, no one would want to have sex with them anyways.” I don’t even know why they’re saying that. “It’s all the unattractive and big women. Nobody wants them anyway.” And to me, what that screams is not someone who cares about the dignity and value of human beings. That’s someone who’s excited about a particular political issue. That is not what God has called us to.
We do not want those people to represent anything that we claim to be about. So, when we talk about this, we want to be both prophetic and compassionate. We want to make sure we have grace and truth, boldness and humility, and it has to be rooted in the fact that we are made by God. We need to listen to one another as we have these conversations.
This is what he says. He says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body.” If God forgot about you, you would know. Your heart wouldn’t beat. Your lungs wouldn’t breathe. God sees us. He knows us. He cares for us. And there’s nothing that we can do or go through that God isn’t aware of and that He’s watching. And so, because God is all-knowing, He uses that knowledge to know us and love us.
And we should be using whatever God has given us to love others. So, as those who are defending the beauty of human life, we should be the foremost defenders of treating everybody with dignity and love. Our love is tied to how we love those made in God’s image. It should show up in how we interact with everybody, including the unborn, including pregnant women, including orphans, including widows, including older folks and younger folks, including disabled folks, everybody.
So, I want to know who are those studying social work, to work in foster care and adoption. And where are all the people who are working on public health policy? Where are all the people trying to come up with creative ways to combat poverty? Where are all the believers adopting children, going into child care services, finding ways to offer affordable ways, going into counseling, going into gynecology, starting mercy ministries, loving neighbors, bringing meals, volunteering at shelters, whether or not pregnancy is even involved?
God’s images. We want our lives to be about loving those made in God’s image. God sums up all of the law and prophets with that: love. God knows us better than we know ourselves. I know I promised that the other points would be shorter. I promise I’m getting here to the end. But he says, verse 16, “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”
This is more intimate knowledge of him than any singular person could ever have. He says God knew everything he would do before he was even born. I want you to know God knows how many hairs on your head, knows what you’re thinking right now, knows what you’ll do tonight and tomorrow.
When we don’t have enough knowledge, sometimes we freak out. It worries us and the amazing thing is that God knows. So even in situations where we find ourselves, if we say, “I’m not sure what to do about this situation, the only way I know how it is, is to compromise.” I want you to know that God knows, and He walks alongside us.
So, this perfect knowledge of God, maybe it doesn’t move you in the same way that it moves me. Maybe it doesn’t seem like something in a love letter. But what if I told you that God, this God we’re talking about, who made you beautifully and wonderfully, knows all your mess and still gave His life so that you could know Him?
Because it can be scary to think, ” Wait, God knows everything, every thought, every action, everything I’ve ever done.” I want you to know this God, who already had perfect knowledge of us, came to earth so that we could know Him, too, and called us to Jesus. We don’t even know ourselves, tried to live completely apart from Him. And God says, “Let me come get you.”
I would encourage you to consider every aspect of your life in light of who this God is. Maybe you’re thinking you don’t need the gospel. I say, “God knows you even better than you know yourself.” You may say, “No, no, no, no. I’m a great person. I don’t know if I need this Jesus.” God knows you even better than you know yourself. “I don’t know how to love other people.” God knows you better than you know yourself and gave Jesus so that He can make us more like Him.
And my prayer is that for those of us who call ourselves the people of God, that the way that this God has known us and loved us, would fuel us to get to know and to love all of our neighbors around us and to reshape the way we have this conversation.
The foundation for this conversation is who we are, made in the image of God.