For many of us, the value of human life is essential to a biblical understanding of God and creation. God does not make mistakes, and it is He who gives life, and so we champion the cause of the unborn. We rightly take up the cause of the unborn, but what about the already born? Does God equally value and love every life that is born? What if they are of another people or religion? What if that religion is hostile to Christianity? What if they will disrupt the way I live my life?
My family and I recently attended a fundraiser for the war-torn country of Yemen. The goal was to fund a certain number of food packages for individual families. There were both Christians and Muslims at the event, and for me, it was a great opportunity to engage with Muslims here in Fort Worth. My wife and I sat at a table with a family from Turkey, and we had some great discussion. They are fairly conservative, and the wife wears a head covering. I was glad to hear that they have not faced any hatred or discrimination in the three years they have been here.
With my focus completely on the Turkish friends, I became convicted to check my heart as to how I felt about the desperate people in Yemen. Thinking about it, I was really attending the event as an opportunity to share with Muslims here. Did I care about the men, women, boys and girls of Yemen? Many die each day without hearing about Jesus, and this repeats itself in a number of other countries. My life circumstances mean that I feel incredibly loved by God, even to the point that it seems He favors me. Does He? When John 3:16 says God loved the world, does it mean everyone everywhere equally?
One of the biggest challenges we face today is that we are bombarded with all kinds of information, causes and opinions. Outside of the Bible, many of these develop a worldview that causes us to look at those not like us with suspicion, caution, fear, concern, and even hatred. It is one thing to oppose ideologies and worldviews that set themselves up against God, but what about individual people? Is that individual still created by God? Do they bear His image even if it is so tainted by sin as to seem invisible? Does He love them, and did Jesus die for them?
The heart of the issue for me is whether I define how God sees and works with people and life, or God defines how I see and work with people and life. With the former, I am likely to go with the flow and accommodate the attitudes and opinions of others, whereas with the latter, I am likely to swim against the tide of popular opinion. The choice seems clear in theory, but the challenge is to live it out in practice. I experienced this personally with the evil of racism in South Africa, where I was raised. I still find myself broken by what happened and asking myself why I did not do better. I am confident that I stand firm on the exclusive belief and practice of biblical Christianity, but the question is whether or not I step outside of biblical Christianity when I choose to see another person as anything less than someone valued and loved by God.