Lives matter. Isn’t that what all the hullabaloo is about these days? Really? In the year 2016 humans are still having to be told that life matters. Is the agenda simply concerned with schooling us on which lives really matter most? Or are the lives that everyone that is shouting about lives that are largely devalued by the majority? And why does it seem like there is an elephant named stereotyping standing in every room full of fighters?
It started with “black lives matter.” No doubt they certainly do. Some take the statement of this obvious truth to imply that the rest of lives – those that belong to we who are not black – matter less. Hence, the hashtag “all lives matter.” Or what about the people group indicted by the “black lives matter” community? As Chick-fil-A contends, “police lives matter,” too. It has become a war about which lives are paramount. And where there’s a war, there are no winners. There are only bleeders.
All the buzz, forgive me, has me a bit confused. It’s one of those things I begin to think about and then look up to see if anyone else’s face reads as puzzled as mine. We’re bleeding out all over America because we have been asked to pick a corner and fight over a fundamental truth that should be quite obvious. Life matters immensely. .
Don’t get me wrong, the issues are real. There are bad cops. There are racist people. There are works of evil all around us all day, every day. If there is anything anyone can do to shed light on the abuses against innocent victims, I’m all for it. But, America, let’s at least be ambitious enough to uncover what is at the bottom of our outrage.
All of these thoughts swirled though my subconscious last night at the theater as I watched the movie “Risen.” It was a fictional story about a Roman soldier who was alive during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In that time and place, perhaps the hashtag would have read “Jewish lives matter.” Maybe it would have said “disciples lives matter” or “soldiers lives matter.” I don’t know for sure but I do know one thing. Then, as well as now, many people were wrongfully abused, injured, and murdered at the hands of the authorities of both church and state.
Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. Like the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun.
But let’s get back to the movie. Jesus shows up and he, claiming to be God, does not fight for the value of his own life to be recognized by those who hate him. He does quite the opposite. Instead, to those who love him, he teaches his example of self-abasement, humility, and how to consider others better than themselves. To that end I ask, is that what we are doing, America? Because it seems like there is a lot of finger pointing going on and none of it ever points inwardly. We, who want justice, are just as responsible for valuing life as those we are shouting at. And honestly, our own self is the only person we have the power to change.
As Christians, we should never minimize or ignore the suffering of others. The truth is that every life was created by God and that is what makes every life intrinsically, immeasurably valuable. That means nothing can make us more or less valuable. Not our skin tone, our profession, or our age. Neither our social status, salary, smarts, or even our sins.
The young black man who is shot by a middle aged white cop is certainly no less valuable than the young white cop who is shot by a middle aged black man. We, as honest people, see the tragedy of both situations as equally horrific.
When our forefathers wrote that all men were created equal, I do not know what they originally meant. I do know that the concept of human equality is borrowed capital from the Christian Bible. What that means is that at the cross, the black man is equal with the white as is the woman with the man; the thief with the philanthropist; the adulterous with the virgin; the drunkard with the sober; the unborn baby with the ninety year-old.
Every life matters to the God who created them all. He shows no partiality. None. If we follow him, every life must matter to us as well. Anger does not win people and cause them to stop doing evil; believing evil; being evil. Civil societal wars won’t save the lives being snuffed out daily. Picking sides will only divide us further. Instead, we must learn who we are. We were made in God’s image and that is why we are all to be highly valued by one another.
Your addicted neighbor is valuable. Pray for him. The coworker who treats you poorly every day is valuable. Show her love. The waitress who got your order wrong is valuable. Tip her well. The man who spoke ill of you to everyone you know is valuable. Forgive him. The girl who always dresses inappropriately is valuable. Teach her. The wealthy man running for president who acts like an utter fool is valuable. Do not hate him. The mad black woman shouting about how valuable her life is is right. Respect her.
It is easy to take up a cause and start shouting. It is hard to live out a life of love toward fellow sinners day in and day out. Nevertheless, that is what we must do. That is the solution. Love saves lives one at a time. That is our job. We must stop letting our differences divide us and pray. Stop carrying torches and shouting about which lives you prefer and prefer them all in the sphere of your very own life. Place value on those you least love for the sake of both solidarity and sanctification. We are all yet students.
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