Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No One Is Expendable

One of the Bible stories which made a big impression on me when I was a child pertained to the idea that Christ cares for every single individual, no matter how insignificant that person might be considered to be by other people. The following excerpt is from Matthew 18:12-13:
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
In context, the preceding verse pertained specifically to children, and more specifically, to those who have strayed from the truth --- but I believe that it is equally applicable to all human beings, since the scriptures make it clear elsewhere that God loved the entire world, and died so that the entire world might be saved.

The general principle which is behind the preceding verse is that God does not regard any human being as unimportant, unloved or expendable.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of modern American society, or even of the Church.

Perhaps one of the most potent examples of the chasm between God's attitude towards human beings and the wrongful attitude of fallen human beings can be seen in the way that we treat the poor, or in the way that we treat people who seem to be lacking in qualities we regard as essential for full "personhood," such as retarded or disabled people or unborn children.

Even in churches which are conservative with regard to issues such as abortion, there is often a distinct lack of love for those who are considered to be more trouble than they're worth. I personally have felt as if I was regarded as unimportant and expendable by numerous churches and their leaders, on the occasions when my personal circumstances put me into a position of needing to ask for help from my fellow believers. I can attest to the fact that it is incredibly painful to be treated in such a manner.

Just as the Declaration of Independence says that "all men are created equal," the Bible teaches us that "God is no respecter of persons." All people are equally valued and loved by God, even though they sometimes fall short of God's glory. When churches and their leaders treat people in discriminatory ways (whether the discrimination is based on race or on any number of other factors), they nullify their witness to a watching world by misrepresenting God's attitude towards the human beings God has created.

No comments: