Why All People Have Dignity and Worth
Last Friday a gunman entered a mall and killed five people. My mind has gone back to this news, over and again, often, over these past days- more than is usual for these types of things. It happened less than sixty miles from where I live, and when I first heard the news, I had only just returned from a shopping trip at a different mall. I know people in the community where it happened. It was too close to home.
My heart ached for these dear ones, for their loss.
That evening, I read Facebook updates from people who were there. For 24 hours, the gunman went without capture. Emotions were raw and unfiltered. People were scared.
Ugly words floated around social media as people processed their feelings, words about what kind of person would do something so evil….“piece of #@$%”, was one comment among many...but the phrase stood out to me.
I wasn’t surprised by the words I read. People who are hurting say things like that. What surprised me was my own reaction to that one phrase, a sudden revulsion, as if I could physically smell what I was reading…
No! He’s made in my image!
Those words came to me, seemingly from nowhere, yet I understood more clearly than if someone had stood in front of me and shouted them. I don't think these words came from me.
I thought some more after that, about how strange it seemed, so contrary to what seemed natural, to think such a thing about this bad man who had just done so much evil. He deserved to be thought of in the lowest terms! Didn’t he?
Then I thought of some other words,
Genesis 1:26-27, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness' ... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
Made in God’s image?
This isn’t saying that we are gods. No, not even close. God is God, alone, and so far above us that we can’t even begin to comprehend his greatness. But yes, we are made in God’s image. This means that, like God, we are relational, creative, intelligent, communicative, and spiritual beings. God is the fullness of these traits, but we were made to reflect him in these ways.
We’re made in God’s image. Even in our fallen state of sin, God loves us.
God sent his son Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8)
Because God is just and holy, without Jesus, we are condemned (John 14:6). Sin separates us from God. But through Jesus, we can have a relationship with God, allowing him to transform us into who he created us to be (2 Corinthians 3:18).
I’m thankful that God claimed me as one his own, through Jesus’ saving grace. I need to remember that any good in me is because of Jesus, and it is to his credit, not my own. I’m still being saved- and I still deal with sin in my life. I say this to make the point that none of us are “better” than anyone else.
We are all made in the image of God. He loves people…even the really “bad” ones. We’ve all sinned, but God has a plan of salvation, to bring us back to him, and who he created us to be, through his son Jesus.
There's a lot of terrible evil in our world, which is hard to understand, and people who do evil things, but nobody is beyond the reach of God. Being made in God’s image means we’re spiritual beings who will live forever, either under salvation or judgment, but right now, God, in his infinite love, is still holding out his hand, desiring that all people would come to know him. This truth should change the way we relate to people. All people have dignity and worth- because God loves them.