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Thinking Rightly: The Value of Life

A few weeks ago a horrific story came out about a 10-year-old Albuquerque girl who was drugged and killed by her mother, her mother’s boyfriend and his cousin. In a city that is all too accustomed to violent crimes, hearing officers refer to this as ‘one of the worst cases they’ve ever seen’ should cause us all to pause and consider.

A few days later, hundreds of people across the Albuquerque metro walked through various communities in the area to raise money and awareness for CareNet, a crises pregnancy center. The irony of this is Albuquerque is often referred to as the late term abortion capital of America. Women flock to Albuquerque from all over the country and the globe to take advantage of lax abortion laws in the state.

Couple these very troubling stories with account after account that dominate our national headlines of controversial deaths and we realize that death is an all too frequent and common occurrence. This begs that we ask a more pressing and probing question: where can one find the basis for the value of life?

Increasingly the societal determination for the ‘value of life’ is directly correlated to one’s productivity and contribution to society. If one has something to offer society, then they have ‘value.’ The problem comes when we attempt to define ‘valuable contribution or productivity.’ More and more, it seems we continue to narrow our view around ‘valuable contribution’ and in doing so we must understand the implications for society. Increasingly the construct for valuable contribution and productivity is seen in concrete terms: A job or service that is performed, marketable skills or talents, or specialized knowledge in various fields. Yet there is a great danger in assigning value in such concrete ways. The moment that someone is incapable of producing in that manner their life ceases to have value. This becomes highly problematic in a few demographics: children, the elderly and those with special needs.

As I look down the road, I fear that our diminishing view of the value of life, coupled with an aging population with record numbers of adults moving into older years we will be confronted with a number of questions around the ethics of life. If we don’t address this problem, we may watch as the fringes of our population become increasingly disposable.

So again, we come back to this question of the basis of life. You don’t have to read very long in the Bible before you come to one of the most instructive passages with respect to human life. In Genesis 1:26 we’re told, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

This verse alone (though there are plenty of others we could look at) answers the question. Notice first that God has endowed in us His image. As people, we have the distinct privilege of bearing the image and likeness of God. It does not mean that we are equal to God. It does not mean that we will become a god. It means that God created us with Himself in mind.

The second aspect that arises from this verse is the reality of God as Creator. Because God is Creator, He has authority over humanity. We are His creation. We belong to Him. Since we belong to God, we do not have the authority to determine the value of our life, but must submit to God’s determination for the value of our life.

It is in this that we must turn our attention to God’s determination of the value of our life. It is God in Genesis 2:7 that ‘breathes life’ into Adam. Job 34:14-15 tell us that if God were remove ‘His breath’ from man, they would all perish. God is the author, giver and sustainer of life. The fact that life continues tells us God’s desire is for life.

In Exodus 20, the sixth commandment tells us that we should not murder. In other Scriptures we are told that the one who takes the life of another will be held accountable and punished by God (Gen 9:5-6; Lev 24:17). This speaks volumes to the value of life and God’s intent to preserve it.

The basis for life resides with God as He is giver and sustainer of life. The passages above, like many other in the Scriptures give us a clearer picture of the value that God places upon life. But the clearest, most compelling argument for God’s valuation of life is found in the person of Jesus and the cross. The fact that God would go to such extreme lengths to redeem sinners from impending death and destruction tells us that life is of extreme importance to God.

So what do we do with this? Here are a few practical applications for us with respect to a healthy valuation of life.

  1. Thank God for life: Thank Him for your life and the lives of those around you. We are not owed a thing, and every day that God gives us is a gift from Him.
  2. We advocate for life: Currently this is most prominent with respect to abortion, but I believe in the coming years, the church will be faced with an intensifying conversation around end of life issues. As believers we must advocate for life. These are not primarily political issues, they are primarily heart issues that also find themselves in the political arena.

NOTE: As believers we must each consider the ramifications of not simply encouraging men and women to not abort, but also our role beyond the womb. For some that may mean adoption or foster care, for others that may entail specific care for a mother or family as they raise their child, but for all believers we must think more broadly about this issue then simply avoiding abortion.

  1. We uphold the dignity of all human life: As believers we should be the first to uphold the dignity of every human life. Whether it’s the unborn, those with special needs, the elderly or those who are racially different from ourselves, followers of Jesus should lead the charge in upholding the dignity of all human life.
  2. We live life abundantly: These words from Jesus should encourage us to live our lives in the manner that He encouraged us to live. Of course living an abundant life is to live a life that is completely surrendered to Jesus.

 

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