September 6, 2015
Our lives matter. The lives of those around us matter. We all know this intuitively. But do we know why lives matter beyond that intuitive feeling? And do we understand just how valuable our lives really are? I think that most people don’t know. And I get the feeling that they don’t care, either. But knowing why your life is valuable will do you good. Here are five reasons that life is valuable.
First, we were created in God’s image. In the garden, God made Adam and Eve. The Bible says that God decided to “make man in [His] image, after [His] likeness.” (Gen 1:26) That statement, “in His image”, says so much about our abilities to create things, interact socially, reason, and govern ourselves. But the statement “in His image” also implies that our lives have inherent value. (If God Himself is inherently valuable, then when He created us, He created us similarly, therefore having value.) The value is so high that later in the book of Genesis, God said, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (Gen 9:6) God created man in His image and because of that, our lives have such value that if one of those lives are killed, God considers it a great offense.
It is amazing to think of being created in God’s image. But there is Someone who far surpasses us in their likeness to God. That Someone is Jesus. Jesus is God’s exact image, “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Heb 1:3) He chose to live among us so that He could save us. (I’ve written about what “saved” means here.) That God would stoop low to come to earth on a rescue mission shows how valuable we are to Him.
Second, we were created with a purpose. I’ll quote a few verses and you can see a recurring thought in Scripture.
God said, “…bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isa 43:6-7)
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Col 1:16)
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. (Psa 57:2)
We all were created by God, for God, with a purpose. And that purpose is to bring Him glory. Bringing God glory means to show how valuable He is. Having that purpose stamped on our very being gives us inherent value.
The thought of having a purpose becomes even weightier when we consider something beyond a general “purpose,” or “calling.” We who know Jesus and are known by Him will be drastically changed. “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (1Co 15:53) This is where every life that knows Jesus is headed. And it isn’t just that we will be unable to die. We will be without sin, which is what brought about death in the first place. Our purpose, our destiny, is to one day be made like Jesus. Do you feel the weight that adds to our value?
Third, God does not rejoice in death. Here is a quote from Ezekiel:
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Eze 33:11)
We can hear the fervency in this verse. God does not take sadistic pleasure in even the wicked dying. He points out to Israel that there is an alternative to death. And He points out that the alternative (them living) is what He takes pleasure in. God’s lack of rejoicing in our dying and happiness in our living gives value to our lives.
It is good to point out that God is not reveling in the pain, suffering, and death of anyone. It is also good to point out that because of God’s attitude toward life, our lives have value. But we can go beyond that. One day, He will destroy death. “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1Co 15:25-26) He loves and values life so much that He will one day destroy death. Doesn’t this show the value that our lives hold even now?
Fourth, God is mindful of man. Out of the vast universe, out of everything that is, God is aware of and concerned about human kind. The thought is staggering. King David phrased this beautifully:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (Psa 8:3-5)
If there is a nearly unmeasurable universe to consume God’s thoughts and He is not only aware of us, but His attention is fixed on us, that should tell us something. It says that our lives are of value to Him. Out of all of creation, our lives are valuable and precious to Him.
But He isn’t just aware of us, or thinking about us. He is active in our lives. “[I]t is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Php 2:13) And this only happens in Christ. If God is working in us for His good pleasure, doesn’t that escalate how valuable our lives are?
Fifth, God is the giver of life. In the beginning, God breathed life into man. And He continues to give us breath for as long as we live. The fact that He originated and daily maintains life speaks to us that He valued and continues to value life.
We can all appreciate the gift of life. But there is an aspect of living that not everyone experiences. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1Jn 5:11) We may have not just life, but eternal life. Eternal life is not just life without end. It is life that will endure forever at such a quality that we can’t understand. If life one day will never cease and can be of incomprehensible glory, then life now has value.
Life matters. All lives matter. And they matter to a degree that we don’t consider well every day. Don’t waste your life. And don’t be content to see those around you waste theirs. Your ultimate purpose, everyone’s ultimate purpose, is to live the life that you have been given to the glory of God. Are you doing that?
I’ve been wanting to blog lately about various issues and how I approach them from a Christian world view. Before I do that, I thought it might be helpful to explain a few of the things that I (and other Biblical Christians) believe.
First, we believe the Bible.
You have probably heard Christians mentioning a verse here and there. And you may have inferred that we give a lot of weight to what it says. But it is more than that. The Bible is our ultimate authority. We believe that it speaks to every situation that we find ourselves in, either specifically or through principles. We believe that it is the word given to us from God.
You may think that we consider it something like a cosmic rule book, containing a bunch of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots.” It does have rules and laws, but it is much bigger than that. If I were to summarize the Bible in one sentence, it would be this: The Bible is the unified story that shows how God glorifies Himself by redeeming His fallen people. It is a wonderful story. And we believe that it is true.
Second, we believe that we are saved by grace through faith. That is a pretty full statement. Let me break it up.
We are saved. You may have heard us use that word before and wondered what we mean by it. Why do we need to be saved? What are we saved from? It is unpopular, but we believe that our sin has broken any chance we have of a relationship with God and has brought His wrath to us. Paul’s epistle to the Romans says this: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Rom 1:18)
What do we mean by sin? We mean any violation of God’s law. We have done things that have violated this law in one way or another: lying, lusting, coveting, stealing, being wrongly angry with people, etc. And what do we mean by wrath? Wrath is God’s perfect hatred of sin that results in a never-ending punishment.
By grace. We believe that we can not possibly do enough good to earn ourselves into a right relationship with God and out of His wrath. Grace means that in God’s kindness and love, He made up His mind to save people, not because they are worthy, but because He is kind. None of us can fully understand such grace because we are accustomed to trading for things or making payments. But we believe that we can’t buy God’s approval of us with anything that we have or anything that we can do.
Through faith. We believe that our only confidence in escaping wrath and having a repaired relationship with God is what God Himself has done. And what has He done? We believe that Jesus, even though He never sinned, took the punishment that our sins deserved. We could not do what He did. We cannot work hard enough to become righteous. Our only confidence is in what Jesus has done for us, not in any thing that we could do for ourselves. And we lay hold of that by believing that it was enough.
Third, we proclaim truth. We believe that because we are His and because Jesus has saved us and because He has defined the ultimate standards of this world, we should speak negatively when we see wrongs being done. And we should speak positively when we see things being done in a way that is consistent with the Bible. Sometimes this comes across hypocritically. I understand that. But we feel compelled to speak, nevertheless.
Fourth, we love. Christians have not done as well with this as we should. Everything we say should be “seasoned with salt,” yet some Christians seem more interested in picking a fight and being right than being kind. When we are unloving, it is wrong. I won’t give us a pass on this. Sadly, we often fail.
But it doesn’t change the truth that God’s love is in us and it is working its way out of us. And even when we love incompletely and show it poorly, we are still trying to love.
You love, too. But your reason for loving isn’t because you have been loved with an eternal, all-powerful, redeeming love. Perhaps you love because it feels right. Or maybe it’s because you have a philosophical conviction that it is good. Or maybe you don’t even know why, but you love anyway. But we love because we believe that we have been loved first by the author of love and the redeemer of our lives. We love because He first loved us.
Fifth, we worship. Our hearts yearn for something that isn’t in this world. We seek (and find) ultimate satisfaction in God alone. Worshiping God in everything that we do and say is our reason for living. Obviously we don’t achieve this goal, but we strive for it nonetheless.
Sixth, we are inconsistent people. The previous three points really bear this out. We proclaim the truth inconsistently. We love inconsistently. We worship inconsistently. Everything that we do is imperfect. But that does more to confirm what I am writing than to disprove it. We believe that this world is broken by sin and will that way until God restores all things. That brokenness includes us. We are saved from the wrath of God and we are being made new, but we are not perfect yet. We strive for perfection, but we will never attain it – not in this life, anyway. Our hope is not in ourselves to save ourselves, but in God who saves us through the work of Jesus. And while we are inconsistent, He is not.
This is just a partial summary of what we believe. Volumes have been written over the years detailing all of these points – and many more. But I think this is a good foundation for what I hope to write in the future.