The next time you are out in public, look at the people around you, preferably without staring like a creeper. That gets awkward quick. What do you see? Truly, what do you see about them, in them? The guy in ratty clothes standing on a street corner with a sign, the girl sitting alone at a table, the guy constantly twitching while he shops for groceries or the weird dude that wants to help but is hard to communicate with? What about the guy with money to burn, the woman wearing the latest fashions, or whoever the top news story is about now?
We had a missionary from Africa, John Easter, who came and spoke about “God’s View and My Lens.” I expected to hear stories, not to be furiously typing notes as he spoke. He spoke of how everyone has value because they are made in the image of God. It is the attributes that set us apart from other creatures. We are rational, with a will to choose, and we can see it in our inventions, writing, enjoying art, and thinking. Our conscience is a shadow of the higher morality; we see it when we are disgusted by evil, praise what is good, and feel guilty. Socially, we are designed to get together and love with the kind of love that does not expect anything, just loving you for who you are.
That gives everyone their intrinsic value, despite origin and background. Everyone is unique, as I wrote in Walking, Talking Miracles we are made. Because the Creator crafts us individually and lovingly because He values us, so we should also value people.
We all have the capacity to respond to the good news of Jesus from a meaningful witness. John 3:16 sums it up very well, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” There are not any exceptions in this verse; everyone is free to say yes and no one should keep you from it.
You have value, there are no insignificant people, everyone wants to matter, and we want our lives to mean something. I just finished a series on purpose outlining how we all have meaning. Most Saturdays I serve the poor and homeless, though most of the time I do not engage in conversation. Then one Saturday, I was handing out flyers at the door and had to engage-this opened my eyes to more of their value, capacity for redemption, and significance. I saw individuals I help because it is needed; my heart does not burn with the compassion my wife’s does, and I just see a need and do it. I am getting my eyes opened as I process this; it was all about me for so long it is a bar that will take a while to reach.
I learned that the quiet custodian who picks up the trash and cares for the place is a bigger bookworm than I am. We had common ground to work off, and the next time I see him, I can ask if he has read any good books lately. Another who comes in is consistently negative; he is a lesson in patience for a few, yet he has value even though he may not see it yet. One other is called “Preacher”, a bundle of joyous energy that infects everyone who has value. One particular person I have a soft spot for is a deaf man who comes; I can identify with the loneliness of the deaf culture. We look for him so we can engage him. Imagine if no one around you knew your language and you could not hear theirs; wouldn’t you be more isolated than ever since it is hard to communicate your needs, thoughts, or desires? He is also valuable.
John closed after speaking on significance. I summed it up with an equation in my notes; however, I think there is a better way to break it down.
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” means everyone has value.
- “that whoever believes in Him” means everyone can choose.
- “shall not perish, but have eternal life” means that we are significant because God wants us with Him in eternity.
No matter a person’s background, God wants them because they mean something to Him. We can introduce others to Him. How can we not when the Creator sees worth in them? We just need to fix our lenses.
If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior and you are reading this, think about what he did means to you. Then take John 3:16 look at someone and say, “For God so loved (insert their name) that he gave his one and only Son, that (if their name) believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” In doing so, you take on God’s view of people. I know I need to; it is why I took so many notes.
If you are not a Christian, I would like you to say it a little differently.
“For God so loved me that he gave his one and only Son, that if I believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
You have value, significance, and can choose to believe. Romans 10:9-10 lays it out, declare with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and trust in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will be saved. It is with your heart that you’re justified before God. Then you will be a new person; the past does not have a hold on you anymore.
Will you make that decision?