In my two decades as a journalist, I've observed an inverse relationship between those who get all the publicity and those who do the most important work on behalf of the kingdom of God. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a rare exception to the rule. She had no spin doctors or image consultants on call. She had nothing going for her save an unswerving commitment to the world's most detested and vulnerable people.
By any contemporary standard, Mother Teresa was a prude. Like the most conservative fundamentalist, she championed traditional family values and opposed both abortion and artificial birth control. And yet, far from being lampooned by the secular media, she was hailed in life and death as a saint. Disagree with Mother Teresa though they did, even the most ardent pro-choice activists had no choice but to respect her for her willingness to abandon a life of comfort in order to work among the poor. As God identified with humanity through the Incarnation, so Mother Teresa identified with the world's most needy by becoming one of them. "When I wash the leper's wounds," she said in 1974, "I feel I am nursing the Lord himself."
In contrast, we evangelicals, by and large, wage our antipornography and pro-life campaigns from positions of relative comfort and affluence. This does not mean such efforts are misguided or irrelevant. But as a practical matter, we should learn from Mother Teresa that the best way to get these messages across is to demonstrate through sacrifice and humility the depth of our love and the purity of our motives. That's what it takes to get a cynical world to listen.
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