Monday, May 30, 2011

The Worth of a Soul: Image of God

Hello Friends,

I've had some ideas stewing for quite some time for a new series titled The Worth of a Soul. In this series, I am going to write about topics such as abortion, human trafficking, poverty, and other things that dehumanize and degrade people, and what the Christian response should be to such issues. I've only written one other blog series before, that being the Story Behind the Song, so this will be a rather daunting task for me. Especially considering the subjects I'll be dealing with.

Before I dig into specific issues that degrade human life, I want to start by establishing from a biblical perspective why human life is so valuable in the first place. Without laying this foundation, there will be no reason to even bother with later posts. I don't value people's lives just because it's the nice thing to do. I value human life because we are made by God, in His own image. This has huge ramifications. 

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.'

So God created man
in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female."
Genesis 1:26-27 

This is huge. I mean, really, think about what this means. For those of you who are Christians, you've probably heard this scripture so many times that it doesn't seem like that big of a deal. But, oh my, is it a big deal! The Eternal God, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, the One who made the stars and named each one of them, has made us in His image!

I think the majority of people either think too well of themselves or not well enough. And usually we believe both at various times. These two verses from Genesis should keep us on the right path. Most Americans spend 12+ years of their early life being told that they are grown up slime. A cosmic accident. If that's the case, then what's the point of life? What makes me any better than a monkey or a dog or a rock? Why is existence better than non-existence? Then there's the other end of the spectrum where people think that they themselves are gods. There is no other God but me. I am the captain of my soul. I exist for myself and for my pleasure. In both cases, the devil wins because we fail to see the purpose of our existence. God is not glorified when you say you are god. And God is not glorified when you say you are a useless mistake of the universe.

"What is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him? You made him a little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him lord over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet."
Psalm 8:4-6

See the balance here? The psalmist is saying that we are less than God. We are not on the same level as God. He created us. We are below Him. But it also says that we are crowned with glory and honor by God himself. Wow. And he made us lords over the works of His hands. Can you imagine that? Such a glorious Being created the universe and everything that's in it. Then He fashions people out of the dust of the earth and makes them in His own image, crowns them with glory and honor, and establishes them as the rulers of all He has created. That should make the despairing lift up their head! But at the same time, we have nothing that wasn't given to us, so there's no excuse for pride. You can never claim that it was by your own strength or genius that you went from a pile of dirt to the image of God. We are honored only because Someone greater than us has bestowed honor on us.

This fact - that God has made mankind in His image - stands for every person who ever has, is, or will live. Born or unborn. "Good" or evil. We are all created in God's image. And this has magnificent ramifications. This is why we should cherish all people, everywhere. This is why murder is so wrong. This is why neglecting those who suffer is so wrong. This is why keeping the Gospel to yourself is so wrong. This isn't just about us as humans, it's about God's glory - His image - that He has stamped us with. If you insult, harass, oppress, neglect, ignore or abuse a person, you are declaring God's most valued creation to be worthless.

If you put someone down or treat them poorly, what do you think that says about how you feel about God? What if you kill someone? These are serious offenses because they are directly tied to God. Here are a few examples from Scripture that connect offenses against people to sinning against God Himself:

"And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind."
Genesis 9:5-6

God relates murder directly to a sin against Himself because He made mankind and He made us in His image.

Jesus says in Matthew 25:41-45, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ "

This passage is, of course, very well known and popular amongst Christians. Our song "Least of These" was mostly inspired by this Scripture. Jesus blatantly says that whatever we do for one of the least of these, we do it for Him. We cannot treat poorly those who are created in God's image without God taking offense. People are valuable because they are made by God, belong to God, and bear God's own image.

And so we find that the worth of a soul comes from the One who makes it.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review: A Deeper Kind of Calm

Hey Friends!

Okay, I've got another book review for you today. This one is for a book called A Deeper Kind of Calm by Linda Dillow.

Also, I apologize for the abundance of book reviews lately and the lack of other blog posts. I'm working on some great ideas for a new blog series entitled The Worth of a Soul and I am really excited about it! So hang in there with me and I'll have some fresh material coming your way shortly! Now on to the book review.

A Deeper Kind of Calm by Linda Dillow is a four-week women's devotional based on Psalms 77, 46, 63 and 84. Linda goes through each of these Psalms and discovers what carried the psalmists through their "valleys of weeping" and how God can use the emotional/spiritual/physical valleys of your own life for your good.

I am generally not a fan of women's devotionals as I find they seem to lack much spiritual depth or weight. This was one of the somewhat better ones that I have read, but I would still classify it as "Christianity Lite". I think this book might be well-suited for newer Christians.

I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


P.S. The book reviews that are posted on this blog are ones that I am required to write in return for receiving the books free of charge from the publishers. However, these are not the only books I have been reading. Here are two others that I've read recently and would highly recommend:
  • Too Small to Ignore by Dr. Wess Stafford, President and CEO of Compassion International
  • Terrify No More by Gary Haugen, President of International Justice Mission (I've only just started reading this one, but I'm sure it will be great)
  • I also love the magazine Mission Frontiers. You can subscribe at their website
Happy reading!