Gosnell & the Gospel

Until three days ago, I had no knowledge of Kermit Gosnell. The abortion doctor. Serial Killer. Murderer. For whatever reasons, his trial for malpractice and murder didn’t seem to generate much of a blip on the news radar. Nothing was brought to my attention by the major syndicates. I discovered the story only by clicking on a link posted on Facebook. Little did I know about the monster whom I would be unraveling.

I had to face the horrid details about the grisly practices that went on for decades in his clinic. The botched abortions, the un-sterilized instruments, the actual deliveries and cold-blooded murders of premature babies. I was sick to my stomach. For the rest of my day, I had trouble digesting this story and what it meant–for our nation, for our pregnant mothers, and for what I thought I had believed in. I was as much infuriated as I was disgusted by what I had read. How could one man take all those lives? All the born, the unborn, and the unsuspecting patients he was supposed to care for. It didn’t matter, they were just numbers, trophies, dead weight. I wanted to strangle that man. I wanted him to burn and rot forever. I wanted justice to be served.

After a moment of calm, I realized I was faced with something as equally unsettling: the gospel. It is a gruesome story about how God delivered his only begotten Son to be abused, shamed, and crucified. He was abandoned, first by his closest friends, then on the cross by His father. He died a criminal’s death all so that those who believe and repent might be saved from serving our rightful sentence. If I truly claim to believe what I believe, then that means apart from Christ I am in no better spiritual standing than Gosnell. For I can never do enough good to not need grace, and yet the work of men is never so evil that God’s abounding grace cannot cover them. The root of evil runs deep, the chasm is wide, but God’s love covers all.

This is the scandal of the cross that I had so conveniently forgotten. This is scandalous, unsettling grace. In my indignation I had called for justice. But if God were to be completely just, He wouldn’t have sent Jesus Christ. He would have rightfully punished us all. But thank God, He was not fair to us. No, He has dealt bountifully with us.

The Gosnell story is an example of mankind at its worst, what people can do if the greed, anger, lust and envy in their hearts are left unchecked. But I would like to take this story as a caution and encouragement to us all. What Gosnell has committed with his hands is what God says we are all capable of doing in our hearts. Spiritually speaking, we are no better.

Dear reader, until you realize your Gosnell moment, you will not fully recognize your need for the gospel. That was what I was confronted with eleven years ago when I first believed. And that’s what I come back to at the end of the day: the cross–where total depravity is kissed by absolute grace.

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Winning in Spirit

Below is an entry I submitted to the Don’t Waste Your Sports DVD Contest last year; it was one of ten winning entries. I thought I’d repost it. It’s about a lesson on humility and the spirit of sportsmanship.

*****

The game was clearly over. Time had not run out, but the scoreboard indicated an insurmountable lead for our team and the faces of the opposing team confirmed it. We dominated on the boards and sank one shot after another.

We were the better team on the court that day, or at least the scoreboard would have you believe.

With the decision in hand, our team of 8th graders was clearly having a blast. And being an inexperienced, volunteer boys basketball coach, I seemed to let the unruly on-court behavior get the better of me. Discipline soon waned. One fancy no-look pass on one play gave way to a showy alley-oop on the next. Before we knew it, our players began chucking three-pointers from half-court.

After the game, as both teams were exchanging high-fives, their coach, several decades older, confronted me.

“Congrats on the win. You got a talented team,” he said, “But it was disrespectful what you did towards the end. Maybe they can learn a thing about sportsmanship, Coach.”

I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me then, but we were no longer just having fun—we did it at their expense. Though we won the game, as was obvious on the scoreboard, we had lost the game in spirit. Sure enough, I would deliver this message to the kids who were not expecting such words after a victory.

There is much to be said about humility, because the ability to reflect genuine grace is perhaps the best victory of all.