Yesterday was deemed Sanctity of Life Sunday; a proclamation made by Ronald Reagan on January 22, 1984 in recognition of the lives taken in murder in response to Roe v Wade. Since that time it has grown to mean much more. This is where my thoughts roam today; to the more.
We are beings created by a Holy God. If we are among those saved from eternal wrath we are counted as righteous and holy; not because of anything we’ve done but because Christ took the sin that separates us from the Holy God himself as the perfect sacrifice. His life atoned for our sin. His death gives our life value. Not only that, but the fact that he created us, each and every one of us with purpose and meaning. This value extends to all people.
Life is sacred. Even a “worthless” life is sacred. A baby conceived, one with a terminal illness, a mental handicap, a physical handicap or one so old they no longer (in our opinion) have anything to offer. Each of these persons has worth. A sacred worth. Their lives formed by the hands of the Creator has value and meaning and purpose. We may not understand the purpose, but God does and that alone is enough.
Because each life has value, because each life is sacred, each life also deserves dignity. Each of us deserves dignity. It doesn’t matter if we’re young or old, black or white, straight or gay, perfect or imperfectly created, a “good” person or an “evil” person. The fact that we live and breath means we should treat each other with dignity.
This doesn’t mean one person has more value than another. This doesn’t give rise to the self-esteem movement. No, it means that we treat each person with respect as if they are created in the image of God. Because they are!Every person deserves to be treated with dignity because they are created in God's image Click To Tweet
The fact is, we cannot dictate how others live or what choices they make. Yes, we have laws that determine how we should live and treat others, but when it comes down to it, no one can mandate anyone but themselves. The truth is, there are choices that other people make that I don’t like.
Let’s make this a bit more personal. As a parent, I’ve watched my older children make choices that I don’t agree with but I’m smart enough to know that I cannot mandate what they do or don’t do. I can offer counsel and I often do (usually with their permission, but sometimes without). I can show compassion when things don’t work out they way they thought it would. I can pick up the pieces after things fall apart. But I can’t control them. I can’t tell them what to do; that is outside my jurisdiction at this point. Honestly, I couldn’t make them do anything when they were little either. I could teach and train them. I could guide them, I could discipline them and the Word of God dictates that I do this, but I couldn’t make them do anything.
Yet there are those in this world that abuse their power, those that attempt to overstep their place of authority– groups like Westboro Baptist, parents that try to control their adult children, employers that act more like slave owners than the bosses they should be. This friends is not showing others dignity. It is exalting ourselves to a place God never intended us to be. You see when we ramrod others, with words or actions, we are not showing them love or kindness or mercy. We are showing them that we have no respect for them.
This happens when we esteem ourselves more highly than we should; when we look to the sin of others instead of to our own sin. Paul once said that he was the chief of sinners. It is this attitude that humbles us. When we realize that what we did, our sin, and our sin alone is enough to nail Jesus to the cross, we stop pointing our fingers at the sin of others. When we realize our total depravity we have no time to correct everyone else, we’re too busy correcting our own sin. Unfortunately, that’s the consequence of living in a fallen world. It is easier to have the beam in our own eye and point at the speck in the eye of those around us. But when we respect others and realize that we have little or no control over those outside our own person, we are showing them the dignity they deserve as human beings created in God’s image. And sometimes we find opportunity to influence.
Yes, I can know that abortion is murder and show the woman that has had multiple abortions compassion because she is a human being created in God’s image.
Yes, I can know that God’s word teaches homosexuality is wrong and treat those living that lifestyle with respect because they are human beings created in God’s image.
Yes, I can show love to the sex offender because that person too was created in the image of God.
Yes, I can be kind to those that treat me poorly because they pre-judge me because of my beliefs because that person judging me is one of God’s created beings.
Are you catching on? Each person, whether in the womb or out of the womb, no matter what shade of brown, no matter what sexual orientation they claim, no matter what sin they’ve committed has value in God’s sight, which means they should have value in our sight. In other words, they deserve dignity because of who God is, not because of who they are. He gives our lives value and worth and meaning. And when we look through the eyes of Christ we can see value in the lives of those with whom we disagree. We can treat those people with respect and dignity an disagree with them at the same time. In fact, we do this all the time with people we love. It’s those people that have no name that make it hard. But when we understand God’s word it becomes easier.We deserve dignity because of who God is not because of who we are Click To Tweet
Relationship problems come when we forget. Or when we think we know what the “other side” believes; when we pre-judge–and both sides of any issue is guilty. Those on the life side prejudge those on the death side. Those on the homosexual side prejudge those on the one man one woman side. Problems arise hen we treat others as if they’re not as good as we are or when we judge others because they don’t do, or believe or say what we think they should. When we refuse to treat others as human beings created in God’s image (sacred).
The fact is we are ALL guilty of treating others poorly. If you think you don’t you’re a liar, plain and simple because we ALL fall short and even the humblest person has a bit of pride. I want to encourage all of us to look inward today and examine ourselves to see if we’re treating others with the respect and dignity they demand as human beings. Forget their appearance. Forget their sin. Forget that you wish they were doing what you want them to do instead of what they want to do. Forget the pain they’ve caused you, or the pain you think they’ve caused you. Focus on who they are as a person formed at the hand of the Creator of all things and consider their value in this light.
Maybe it’s time to soften our hearts. Maybe it’s time to repent. To turn away from the way we’ve treated them (whoever the them is in your life) and begin to treat them as they deserve. (Not because of who they are, but because of who God is).
That’s my challenge to you today. Are you treating others a sacred persons created in God’s image? Are you treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve, not because of who they are, but because of who Christ is? Are you willing to humble yourself and repent for behavior that has not shown dignity and respect to others, first to God and then to them if you are able?