“I would say, it’s anywhere from $30 to $100… per specimen. A lot of people are looking for hearts these days. …Some people want lower extremities too, which, that’s simple. I mean, that’s easy. I don’t know what they’re going to do with it. I guess they want muscle.” –Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Services Department
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies!” –Jesus
“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” –Dr. Deborah Nucatola
“If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?” –Jesus
Jesus loves Dr. Deborah Nucatola just as much as he loves the babies she so causally discusses.
That is the scandal of the gospel.
The early Christians were known for their generous love. Today’s Christians are known for our thirst for justice.
That is the scandal of our church.
The enemies of Jesus’ day were surely at least as repugnantly violent as any enemy we can find in our day. Jesus’ Jewish audience needed no reminders of of the horrific, violent practices of the Roman army that oppressed them. (Not long after Jesus died the Roman army crucified so many people during their conquest of Jerusalem that legend has it that they ran out of trees). Yet what did Jesus say about the evil soldiers in their midst?
“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”
When Jesus healed the centurion’s servant it was a miracle so radical that the closest we can come to comprehending it would be to imagine ourselves performing an act of kindness for an ISIS soldier shortly after one of their beheading videos.
The Samaritan Woman at the Well. The Good Samaritan. The conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10. The Letter to Philemon. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
It is impossible to tell the gospel story without speaking of a love so generous that it offends our sensibilities. Not to mention that the first Christians were surrounded by an evil so violent that it threatened to swallow them whole. Yet even as the gospel compelled them to pursue justice, they were always known for something even greater.
The first Christians conquered an empire with love rather than power.
Of course, none of this means we shouldn’t write our congress person, sign a petition, or add our voice to the call for justice. But it does mean that calls for justice walk hand in hand with acts of love.
So what are acts of love that our culture understands? Here’s an example I’ve been mulling over: (conservative) Christians love Chick-fil-A. Yesterday a bunch of them showed it by dressing like cows to get free food. And a couple of years ago even more (conservative) Christians showed their love on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, combating an earlier boycott led by supporters of same-sex marriage. In America, we show love by buying things; we show even more love by buying things together.
So, as we write our congress people and sign our petitions, what if we banded together to show our love for the people of Planned Parenthood? What if local churches bought fruit baskets and gift cards to give to PP staff, or washed cars in parking lots, or penned notes of encouragement?
What if love and justice walked hand in hand?
What if our gospel was scandalous, rather than tame?
What if our enemies knew we loved them?
I’m still trying to decide if buying a fruit basket is the best I can do. But here’s what I do know:
Jesus loves Deborah Nucatola.
Jesus loves the people of Planned Parenthood.
And so should we.