In His Image

Four families I know recently announced new additions on the way! They are their first, second, third (grandchild) and fourth, but all have the same joy.  Our natural response to such precious news affirms the intrinsic value of human beings, though these babies have accomplished nothing yet.  They just exist, safe and oblivious in their moms.

We love, care for, train, and educate children because of a truth expressed by the Psalmist, “You formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13-14).  Created by God, human beings are valuable.

Why do we think of a life as wasted if not lived well or if it ends in suicide? If a tree fell in the woods, it is nothing; but why is it horrible if it falls on a person?  Why does the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibit “cruel and unusual punishments”?  Why do the Geneva Conventions protect prisoners of war, regardless of how they fought?  The answer is that human beings have intrinsic value, and we know that even if we refuse to admit it.

Where does this value come from? Scripture says, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:27).  Francis Schaeffer wrote, “If man is not made in the image of God, nothing then stands in the way of inhumanity.  There is no good reason why mankind should be perceived as special.  Human life is cheapened.”  If the universe is impersonal with chance origins, no evidence would exist for intrinsic value of people.  But a natural awareness of that value makes sense if there is a Creator who set us apart from the rest of creation.

C. S. Lewis wrote, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization – these are mortal… But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” Even an immortal horror has value as Jesus calls to him, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36-37.

To the Christian, a person has value and is worth saving; hence we present the gospel as revealed by God and experienced in history that Jesus saves. As Creator, He values and loves people and invests his likeness, creativity, and reasoning ability in us.  To be completely human, to be an everlasting splendor, is to connect with the God who, while you were yet in your mother’s womb, created you in His image.