Saturday, February 17, 2007

Before we were, we are chosen

Every once in awhile I hear the passage from Jeremiah 1:4-10 used in the pro-life/pro-choice argument. I think that’s a misuse of the passage. The passage doesn’t talk about when a child becomes human or when a fetus becomes human or anything close to that. This passage is about God knowing us before we knew ourselves. The passage is about God calling us to work before we could understand work. This passage is about foreknowledge and predestination (at least for those the reformed traditions), but it is not about when a collection of cells becomes human.

This is a passage of wonder at God’s power. God calls us and supports us. It is not that we are a boy – we cannot use our lack of power as an excuse – for God calls us as we are. We speak a word in or out of season to those who are powerful. The weak are lifted up and the mighty fall from their thrones. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every man [sic] I meet is in some way my superior.” An appropriate sense of wonder allows us to find that way in which every one we meet is our superior.

We are chosen and we are a royal priesthood yet we are also called to be with the humble and weak. That we have been lifted up should be a sign that we have taken up our cross daily. That we were known before we are born is a call to live faithful lives. If we use this passage to condemn others, then we condemn ourselves along with those others.

The one in whose name we are lifted up, called from the cross “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.” And because the one without sin took the road to the condemnation of the cross, we who are with sin should avoid casting the first stone or any stone of judgment towards another.

The passage from Jeremiah is not one that should lead us to one side or the other with the issue of abortion. Rather it should lead us to a celebration of God’s gracious gift in choosing us before we were born and before the worlds began. And it should be a call to live our faith no matter how young or old we are, no matter our life condition, no matter our status. This passage is not one from which we should exalt ourselves as better, but to call ourselves to service of each other in the name of the One who created us.
Jeremiah 1:4-10 [4] Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, [5]
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I
consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." [6] Then I said,
"Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." [7] But
the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to
whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, [8] Do not be
afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD." [9] Then the
LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me, "Now I have put my words in your mouth. [10] See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build
and to plant."

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