A friend recently sent me a news story that shocked me. In China, drivers who kill pedestrians are fined between $30,000 and $50,000. But drivers who must provide lifetime care for a disabled survivor can pay millions of dollars. As a result, it is common for Chinese drivers who hit a pedestrian to run over the person repeatedly to make sure he or she is dead.
Here we see the results of a worldview that devalues the sanctity of individual life. Ethicists call this the "instrumental" view of life—a person's worth is not inherent, but measured only as a means to another end.
Did you know that the number of babies aborted in the U.S. since 1973 is one-and-a-half times the total population of Canada? Ninety-three percent of all American abortions are elective, meaning that they have nothing to do with rape, incest, or the life of the mother.
It is vital that Christians stand up for the intrinsic value of all life, from conception to natural death. That's why I am so grateful for organizations such as the Council for Life (CFL). Their Celebrating Life Luncheon, featuring FOX News' Kirsten Powers, is November 9. (For more, visit their website.) CFL promotes life in positive, joyful ways. Such an attitude is vital in our polarized, negative culture.
In recent days we have explored ways we can impact our culture for the Kingdom. We identify those we are called to reach, seek to understand them, and engage them courageously and strategically.
Today let's consider the significance of joy.
Paul's Macedonian call could not have been clearer. At first all went well. Lydia, one of the leading figures in Philippi, came to Christ and helped establish the church in her home. A demoniac was healed, and the Kingdom was advancing.
Then the demoniac's owners protested to the authorities, who ordered that Paul and Silas be arrested and beaten: "When they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison" (Acts 16:23).
How did the apostle and his missionary partner react? "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them" (v. 25). Then God sent an earthquake that liberated the prisoners. The jailer assumed they had escaped, and he prepared to kill himself. Paul intervened, saving the man's life. The jailer and his family then came to Christ. Paul was vindicated by the authorities, and the Kingdom advanced.
Joy in a jail cell remains Paul's legacy from Philippi. The epistle he later wrote the congregation is often called "the letter of joy." Its central theme is captured succinctly: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). The apostle's joy in the face of adversity convinced skeptics that his faith was genuine and his God real.
Such joy can still be our most impactful witness today. As you seek to fulfill your Kingdom assignment, be sure your spirit matches your message. Joy is a "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22). It is evidence that your Lord is at work in your life. (Tweet this) The greater your adversity, the greater your opportunity.
During the Thirty Years War, Martin Rinkart buried 4,000 people in one year, including several members of his family. That was the year he wrote the hymn, "Now Thank We All Our God."
What hymn will you sing today?
Publication date: November 4, 2015
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others?
Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.