This summer, I was visiting my son Thomas and his wife Holley, who are missionaries in Belgium. Besides longing to see them, I was interested to see a local expression of the European attitude to Christianity and religious belief. Thomas and Holley had already put a lot of work into speaking French, understanding the local culture, and building relationships. Holley wanted me to meet one of her good friends and so, one morning, we went to meet Jessica at her work. Holley was and is excited about this friendship and hoped that Jessica would come and join a Bible study in the future.
Jessica came across as a lovely young lady. She was friendly, smart and an overall attractive person who seemed to be successful in life. After we had chatted for a while, I noticed she had a unique, abstract tattoo on her forearm. I commented on it and how unique it was. She said that she had had it done as a reminder for her to accept herself. I was surprised and told her that she seemed to be a lovely person who had been beautifully created by God. I pushed a little further and told her that God does not make mistakes and does not make rubbish. She did not expect this response and was not sure how to answer. I did not want to cause embarrassment, so we talked about other things and then left on a good note.
Jessica’s story illustrates what can happen when biblical truth is removed from a cultural worldview. Is human life random and only significant in how we try to make it so? Do we have to make our lives mean something? Do we end up creating distinctions between people and valuing one life over another so that some lives count more than others?
The value of human life is an essential teaching in the Bible. Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
These passages are life-changing. If God has created human life, then every life is meaningful—even when our culture and personal life experience tell us otherwise. But Scripture goes even deeper.
The biblical principle of the Imago Dei is found in Genesis 1:26—“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” This is amazing! All human beings are created with God’s likeness within them. This makes each person incredibly valuable. Jessica has no idea how amazing and valuable she really is.
Ah, but there is more! In Psalm 139, we read of God’s personal involvement with each human being in a way that should blow our minds. He does not just create us and then leave us alone. He is intimately part of our lives so that there is no place we can go that He is not there.
Because we live in a fallen world, our own sinful natures and the lies and deception of Satan will distract and blind us to God’s presence in our lives. This is the predicament in which Jessica finds herself—God is right there with her, but she cannot see it; it is like a hidden mystery. The way out for Jessica and every other person who is spiritually blind is found in Colossians 1:26-27—“the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Jessica can solve the mystery and discover how valuable she is as she discovers Christ and the message of the Gospel. But this passage also shows that the way for her to discover this is through someone like Holley—it is as Holley proclaims Jesus, who dwells within her life, that Jessica will discover her own need for Christ.
My heart breaks for the people of Europe who find themselves trying to give a meaning to life that can only be found in the Gospel. I have discovered that meaning, and this Christmas is a special opportunity for me to share Christ with many people like Jessica. Will you join me in looking for every opportunity to do so?