by Michelle Bauman, Director of Y4Life
I absolutely love to sing.
It’s true. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, I like having a tune in my head. And much to the embarrassment of my sons, I don’t always keep that tune on the down-low.
It’s not that they don’t appreciate my singing. I’m sure they love it. (*Cough*) It’s just that sometimes … I get the words wrong.
You know how it is—you hear a song on the radio and after a few listens, you begin to sing along. And once you’ve got it, you belt it out with enthusiasm and gusto because that’s what singers do … until the laughter erupts from the passenger seat, or the locker next to yours, or the sophomore sitting next to you at the basketball game. And suddenly you realize you’ve written a version of the song the artist never intended.
The truth is, we all need clarification sometimes. We all need someone to fix our misunderstandings, to correct our language, to explain the inexplicable.
So when we at Lutherans For Life and Y4Life announce that our theme for the whole year is From Invisible to Indispensable and that we’re planning the entire LIFE WEEK 2021 around this theme as well as Y4Life in Washington, D.C., we probably have a little clarifying to do. After all, our theme is just a prepositional phrase hanging out there without a subject. Am I right?
Well, you, my friend, have come to the right place. Let the clarification begin!
First, let’s start with the word “Invisible.” You know what that means. Invisible things are those things we cannot see but we know exist, things like air and radio waves and angels. Gravity, DNA, and oxygen can’t be seen with the naked eye either, but we’re confident not only of their presence but also their necessity to life. Invisible things are often vital, and we know that God designs and gifts all things necessary for life. In fact, we confess this in the Nicene Creed when we proclaim faith in “God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”
You, also, were once invisible.
Smaller than the tip of your pencil, microscopic and unseeable, you existed days, perhaps weeks even, before your mother or father knew you had come to be.
But God knew you were there because He brought about your beginning. From before the foundations of the world, God intended to make you. And when the right time and place came to be, God set to work. Weaving together some of the genes He gave your mother and some of the DNA He gifted your father, His artistry began and commenced in you. Handpicking the color of your eyes and the shape of your eyebrows, He crafted the genetic code that would set into motion your patterns of growth. God purposely designed how your hair would fall, planned when your first tooth would arrive, and fashioned the shape and swirl of your unique fingerprints. Yes, your gait, your natural gifts, your desire for comfort, and your need for love are all gifts from God Himself.
And being handcrafted by God gives your life worth and meaning. It declares that you are one of a kind. You are a priceless treasure.
But sometimes the world doesn’t recognize that. Instead of seeing inherent value in life because all lives are created by God and redeemed by Jesus, the world is tempted to view life as unimportant, accidental, meaningless, and, perhaps most tragically, disposable. Our sinful world works hard to make the visible invisible, to hide the truth behind a screen of falsehoods.
You are not and never have been simply a number, a blob of tissue, or an invisible nobody. Rather, you are now and always have been God’s handcrafted gift to the world.
And that’s where the other half of our theme comes in: “Indispensable.” You see, being indispensable means being absolutely necessary—essential even. And if you haven’t figured out where we’re headed yet, let me belt it out with enthusiasm and gusto: YOU ARE INDISPENSABLE.
How can that be? you wonder. How am I absolutely necessary to the world?
Well, 1 Corinthians 12 has something to say about that, and I’d encourage you to read it. All of it.
In one short chapter, Paul showcases your necessity as he describes the body of Christ. He declares that “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose” (v. 18), giving different gifts to each member so that the body’s needs would be met.
Just as God personally created your body, so too He continually designs His body, the Church, bringing together people from all walks of life, all nations, and all abilities, in service to the world. And while it may be true that the world does not appreciate the gifts you have to offer, the body of Christ most certainly needs you.
No matter gift or ability, height or hair color, each member of the body of Christ is vital. Even those of us who sing the wrong words or can’t sing at all. 1 Corinthians 12:22 states, “On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” So each member of the body of Christ is a gift to the others. Each member provides service to others and opportunities to be served. This is who we are; this is who God has perfectly formed us to be.
I mentioned before that we all need clarification sometimes. We all need someone to fix our misunderstandings, to correct our language, and to explain the inexplicable. The world needs this correction too, especially when it writes a version of life that the Artist never intended. Christians are called to proclaim the truth, and that truth is clear:
All life is valuable. Each member of the human race is vital. All lives are indispensable because of Christ.