The Value Of Life
During an interview, a famous female singer remarked how sickened she was when she heard a news story about doctors who had used a baboon’s liver to save a man’s life. “How can you place human life above every other form of life? Who do these people think they are?”
Who do we humans think we are?
If we listen to the mainstream educators and scientists in our society, we hear that we are only highly evolved versions of the bacteria that we trample under foot every day. These elite intellectuals have dismissed the once noble idea that men and women are the cherished fulfillment of an intelligent design; instead, we are the chance product of innumerable mistakes.
Each of us must arrive at answers to that singer’s questions, especially because of the impact those answers will have on our lives, the lives of our loved ones, and the lives of every other human on this planet.
Because our society increasingly accepts the idea that our arrival in this life is based on little more than chance, is it any wonder that society is also approving the idea that our departure from this life is based on little more than whim? The unborn, the elderly, the handicapped, the terminally ill – each has been or could become the unwary victim of this ?easy come, easy go? philosophy. If we conclude that our presence in this world is not part of an ultimate plan, then our forced removal from this world becomes immeasurably easier to justify.
The Bible has much to say about God’s involvement in our lives and the sanctity that He gives them. Just like a potter and his clay, God not only fashions our lives as we live them day by day, but He was also planning our lives before we ever came on the scene.
The Bible says that human life is sacred because:
1. God originated human life and sustains it.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 says that ?the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it?. God originally began life through the first man and woman that He created (Genesis 1:26, 27), and He superintends every life from its earliest moments in the womb (Psalm 139: 15,16). God so thoroughly sustains every aspect of our life that the Bible says, ?If it were His [God’s] intention and He withdrew His spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust? (Job 34:14,15)
2. God has stamped His image upon human life.
The distinguishing factor that sets mankind apart from baboons, whales, seagulls and all other animal life is that which forms the most fundamental part of his being. The Bible says that ?God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them? (Genesis 1:27). Note well that this image is bestowed on mankind by his Creator, not assigned to mankind by other humans based on a relative standard of individual worth.
In what ways do we see God’s image in the people He has created? Theologians have for centuries debated how far that image permeates our lives, but there are certain areas of common agreement. Just as God is rational, moral, and has the ability to make free decisions based on His reason and conscience, so also we see those qualities in the people He has created. Self-awareness, self-sacrifice, intimacy, companionship, creativity – all of these human traits to one degree or another testify to the Creator that conferred them. The Bible also says that God has ?set eternity in the hearts of men? (Ecclesiastes 3:11) so that mankind is instinctively aware that there is more than just bare existence, but that there are ultimate goals and purposes and reasons for life.
This divine image that we bear as humans gives us value, and it invites God’s concern for us. Commenting on God’s special care for His creation, and for men and women in particular, Jesus Christ said, ?Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows?(Matthew 10:29-31).
So precious is this divine image in mankind that it deserves due protection. Any wanton attack on men and women created in God’s image is tantamount to attacking God Himself. So God commanded, ?Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man? (Genesis 9:6).
3. God has a plan for human life.
We were created on purpose, for a purpose. David, the Old Testament psalmist, wrote that ?All the days ordained for me were written in Your [God’s] book before one of them came to be? (Psalm 139:16). The New Testament is explicit about our purpose in life when it says that ?[Christ] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again? (2 Corinthians 5:15).
We might hear the objection that our ability to bear God’s image in this world is tied directly to our ability to function at a ?useful?level. However, ?useful? is relative, and too often what is ?useful? is defined by what we see when we look in the mirror. But more than just being dependent on our ability, God’s purpose in our life is tied directly to His ability to use us, no matter what our physical or mental condition.
4. A Successful Human Being
Marshall and Susan had a daughter they named Mandy. In God’s plan, Mandy entered this world with a condition called microcephaly (small brain). As Marshall described her, ?She would never walk, talk, sit up or use her hands. She suffered frequent seizures. Cataracts had to be surgically removed from her eyes when she was three months old. We never knew if she could see or hear. Trips to medical facilities happened so frequently, we started calling these our Club Med vacations.?
In God’s plan, Mandy lived only two years before her body was overcome by a bout with pneumonia. But those two years were filled with the realization of God’s purposes for her. Christians in the medical community who treated Mandy came forward to assure Marshall and Susan that they were praying for them. She quickly became ?the church’s kid,? often being passed from lap to loving lap during the church’s worship services. Strangers would see her and inquire about her condition, which often led to the deeper questions of why does this happen? What can we learn from her? Where does the strength come to care for her? Even during her last hours in the hospital, Mandy was visited by a stream of people who sensed their need to be with her, to confess their sins, and to draw near to God.
After Mandy died, Marshall wrote, ?God’s assignment for Mandy was to live without many of the resources I previously took for granted. But His purpose for her was as significant as for any other…Could a sightless, wordless, helpless infant who lived to be only two years old ever be a ‘successful human being’? If success is fulfilling God’s purposes, I consider Mandy wildly successful.?
Our Human life is sacred not because of what we can do, but because of who we are. God has dared to choose ?the foolish things of the world to shame the wise…the weak things of the world to shame the strong…the lowly things…the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him? (1 Corinthians1:27-29). We dare not choose differently, and we dare not demean those who bear the Creator’s image and live in the Creator’s plan.