If you saw a guy dumping out the messy, wet contents of a trash bag onto the street, how would you react?
What if that same guy was dumping those contents into the middle of your bed? How would you react differently?
For most people, the bed is more sacred than the street.
Our daughter Macayla helped us understand what is sacred as we had to make decisions about protecting and prolonging her life even though we could not stop her from dying. Battens disease is 100% fatal. When do you prolong life and when do you stop suffering?
But we live in a culture where boundaries and definitions about what is sacred are dissolving. American Christians struggle in large part to understand the importance and implications of sacredness in their daily lives as believers. Dissolving the sacred is killing the church in America...
The simple illustration about the trash above by Bruce Malina helps us grasp the basic idea of sacredness. Sacred means something is set apart to us, or for us, while other things are not. A family member is sacred compared to a stranger. Time spent on vacation can be sacred compared to time at work. Our belongings are sacred compared to the belongings of others.
Jesus healed a leper by touching him (Mark 1:40-45). He told the leper to tell no one, but the leper spread the news everywhere. The leper did this because in their culture he was obligated to honor Jesus by telling others what Jesus had done for him. However, because Jesus touched a leper, Jesus could not legally enter a village or synagogue until he himself showed no signs of leprosy for a specific number of days. Jesus' whole purpose at that point in the story was to go into the synagogues and teach, but the leper's big mouth prevented this from happening because everyone knew Jesus touched an "unclean" leper.
According to the culture, the sacred space of the synagogue could not be violated by the impurity of a leprous person. Thus, Jesus stayed out in the "desolate places" until the right time had passed. The first-century culture in the New Testament extensively defined the sacred and daily life revolved around it. In fact, many of the debates between Jesus and the Pharisees was over what is sacred and what is profane, or common. (The Bible often uses the terms "clean" vs. "unclean.")
Today, the church faces a public debate about life, abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering, etc. The first struggle is that most of us are uninformed about the medical facts in these issues. The second struggle is that even if we knew the facts, many American Christians are uninformed about Scripture and how to weigh the facts in light of God's truth.
Thus, our knee-jerking replaces time in prayer and Scripture. We toe the line of our particular denomination or political party instead of seeing if those lines conform to God's truth. The result is boycotting the opposition replaces sharing Christ with the opposition. Cliches replace truth. Lobbying for legislation replaces correcting and encouraging others through patience and teaching (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
Life is sacred. Scripture is clear on this point. American Christians must understand that preserving life is about more than protecting heart beats. It's about leading souls to eternal life as well. It's about Christian parents protecting their children's eternity by pointing their kids to Christ above all else. It's great to save a baby's life and how much better if one day we can lead that same child to Christ.
Life is sacred, but so many Americans who label themselves "Christian" live their life in a profane manner. Life is bigger than a heartbeat or the exchange of gases in the lungs. Life is about living. It's about the purpose and reality of God and His kingdom. Issues like abortion are simply symptoms of people being uninformed and sinful. If we want to protect life, both the biological and eternal, we must address the disease and not its symptoms.
Like other families with a terminal illness, we had to make decisions about life. But our job was to prepare Macayla for her future as much as we prepare our other children for theirs. She was going to meet Jesus sooner than we wanted, but we had to prepare her for it during the time we had her. Our other children are no different. We have to prepare them for more than just adulthood. We have to prepare them to live life now and forever in Christ because LIFE. IS. SACRED.