August 16, 2020
The Intrinsic Value of Life
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
The Psalmist in Psalm 8:4 asks God a question, he asks, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” and again in Psalm 144:3 he again asks “LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!” and I’m sure that many of us have at some time in our lives asked that very same question of God but in a more personal way, it may have sounded something like this “God who am I that you would care even one little iota about me” After all the psalmist isn’t the only one who has looked at the magnificence of the universe and wondered “With all that out there how can he even know who I am?”
Yet time after time throughout scripture God speaks of His love for us. And probably the best example of this is found in Romans 5:8
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”
So, what exactly is the answer to not only the psalmist question but millions and millions of people throughout the ages as to why God whose majesty is so far beyond our comprehension would love us and be mindful of us? The answer is found in the opening scripture, God loves us and is mindful of us because he created us in His image, and there are a lot of people out there today who need to hear this.
To help us understand a little better why that matters we just need to go a little further in that opening scripture to Genesis 5:1-3
“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:”
Do you think that Adam and Eve loved Seth; do you think that they kept account of him and provided for him, do you think when he was weaned that they stopped providing food for him and when he was grown do you think they just forget about him? No, I don’t think so either.
Because we are created in the image of God we carry in us the ability to Love and it is only because we are created in his image that we have that ability, and it’s not just love but all other characteristics of God as well, Compassion and Mercy are also characteristics of God that manifest themselves in mankind, after all how many of us have witnessed a small child get upset over seeing something hurt or in pain? I remember a time when one of my children was watching a movie and because something happened to one of the characters they began to cry because of their compassion for that character, I didn’t teach them that compassion, Kaye didn’t teach them to have compassion it’s hardwired into them, we didn’t teach them to love us or their siblings either that just came naturally, this is the DNA if you will passed on from God to all of mankind.
Alister McGrath, the Irish priest and theologian said “Within each of us exist the image of God, however disfigured and corrupted by sin it may presently be”
This is true of all of us, even the worst of us, the people we see on tv rioting and fighting, the people we see around us from time to time who appear just angry at the world they still have the capacity to love even if it is buried deep beneath whatever it is that angers them.
This is something that we have to remember as the days go by and as we continue to witness the things we are witnessing day in and day out, it is something that those who claim to be a child of God need to remember when they are looking across the way at those they perceive to be their enemy.
In the Old Testament it is said that David was given the Kingdom of Israel because he was a man after God’s own heart, and if you are familiar with the history of David you know that once the hand of God fell away from King Saul to David King Saul tried to Kill David several times and failed, David however, had two chances to Kill King Saul once in his tent as he slept, the other in a cave, yet he refrained from killing him even as his men urged him to, why?
1 Samuel 24:6 David says to his men who were urging him to kill Saul
“ ‘The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.”
In spite of what King Saul had become and the fact that he was now wrongfully seeking to harm David, David knew that Saul was still special because God had at some point blessed him and anointed him, he saw through the disfigurement of Saul’s sin to the part of him that was touch by God and because David Loved and Honored God he would not harm Saul.
Can you imagine if people looked at each other today with this same respect and love for God as David did?
Now imagine if we all could see through this corruption and disfigurement of Sin that Alister McGrath spoke of, imagine how much more we would not only be like David but more importantly how much more like Christ we would all be.
Think of all of the commandments of Christ that would all of a sudden become easier to follow if we saw the image of God in all of mankind, how much easier it would be to “Love thy enemy” or Love thy neighbor” if we knew that we were loving something which held the image of God.
If all of mankind could understand and believe that we are all created in the image of God we would see around us a different world, we would witness a difference in mankind that has only come about because of this realization that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
So why don’t we act that way now, why is there so much hate in this world?
Part of the answer is that Satan has done a good job of convincing a lot of the world that God is a myth, that he doesn’t really exist and that we are here by some random chance, that some time ago some primordial ooze ran into some other primordial ooze and life started, he has done a great job of convincing vast members of the world that mankind only stands tall because some monkey was finally able to stand upright and start making tools, He has done a great job of convincing the world that the life of mankind is not that special that the value of man is only as great as the life on that bug that splattered on your windshield on your way here to church this morning. He has done a great job convincing us that there is nothing special about human life.
But Satan is only part of the answer, but what about those of us that believe that God exist, what about those of us that say we understand and believe that we are made in the image of God, why do we not look at each other as David looked at Saul?
Do we who believe in God really believe that we are created in His image, do we really understand that even our “enemies” no matter how sinful they may be, deep down under their sin they also carry the same image of God?
This is why Jesus said time and time again to love those who not only don’t love you but also those whom hate and persecute you; this is why he said to forgive those who have wronged you, this is why he said to feed those who are hungry, clothe those who are naked, visit those in prison, and do for those who can’t do for you, He said all of this because Jesus knows that ALL men bare the image of the Father, and it is because of that image of God that all of mankind bares that we should do these things.
Imagine if the woman on the way to the abortion clinic really understood and believed that the child she was carrying truly bore the image of God and understood what she was about to do to that child, do you think she would still enter through those doors?
I’m saying that if we truly understood and believed that all of mankind bore the image of God there wouldn’t be an argument about a woman’s right to choose what she could do with her own body.
The addict passed out on the park bench or on the sidewalk, the old person holding up the line or slowing traffic, the mentally challenged person bagging our groceries, the homeless vagrant with his hand out, the neighbor who is constantly a thorn in our side, the thug who victimizes the weak, the atheist that constantly throws barbs at us and our God, and even the Man who kills another in the name of their religion, they all bare the image of God whether they like it or not, whether they believe it or not.
If we truly understood the significance of this then we would understand better why God sent Jonah to the Ninevites, we would understand why David refused to slay Saul, we would understand why we are called to love those whom we deem undeserving of our love, we would understand why we are called to forgive those whom we deem undeserving of our forgiveness, we would understand why we should show Mercy to those whom we deem undeserving of our mercy.
In other words if we understood that all of mankind bares the image of God then we would understand why God sent Jesus, not just to the Jew but to the gentile alike, because God never forgot that we all bare His image and therefore we all deserve at least the chance to reconcile ourselves to Him.
It’s hard to see the image of God in ourselves let alone someone whose deeds are more evil than our own, yet we are all evil in our deeds to the eyes of God and yet Jesus still died for us.
All human life broken down to it minimal value, still has value because of the image of God that we all bare.
When we truly understand this message given here today we can no longer look at our fellow man and see no redemptive value in their lives even if they are the worst of us, everyone, born and unborn, carry the image of the creator and as such deserve to be loved even if that love comes in the form of forgiveness, mercy, or just plain old compassion.
We don’t have to like what the person has done, we don’t have to like the lifestyle they have chosen, but we have to love them at some level whether because of their actions we deem them worthy or not, that is why we as Christians are called to spread the Gospel, not to other believers because they already have it, but to the lost because they need it.
This can be a tough message to apply to our own lives because for many of us someone else’s sin is personal so in closing I want to share with you another piece of scripture.
2 Samuel 12:1-7
“Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3 But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. 4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this [a]shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!……”
May we hear these words and apply them willingly to our lives.