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22 September 2017

Who counts in this world?

Who counts in this world?

Helen Thorne is training and mentoring director at London City Mission.

Who counts in this world? What value a life? 

Questions that maybe we don't ask very often. Questions that maybe we should. After all, they're ones setting conversations ablaze after news of a court case in Germany this week. 

There, an elderly man collapsed by an ATM. With life slowly ebbing away, due to a critical head injury, not one nor two but three people quietly ignored his plight – simply withdrawing their cash and moving on with their day. 

For him there was no "good Samaritan" – only those who "passed by" (Luke 10). Despite a law mandating people to help, strangers looked upon his life and valued it as of less worth than the things they needed to do. 

One of those involved commented that they had assumed he was homeless: one of those people who had harassed them in the past. What a terrifying insight into the hierarchy of value so many implicitly impose on their fellow inhabitants of God's world. Despite headlines campaigning for equality, we still live divided, there are those who matter and those who don't. 

But it's not just outside a German bank that such questions hold sway. "What value a life?" is arguably one of the most paradigmatic questions of our day. It undergirds many a headline, many a conversation I've overheard. 

The perpetrators of recent terror attacks would seemingly answer "none" if the person holds an ideology different from theirs. 

The media moguls selectively reporting on victims of crime or natural disaster frequently imply "not much" if people live in poorer socio-economic lands. The losses of the comparatively rich far more easily draw their gaze.

The pro-choice campaigners shouting loud in the abortion debate would have us believe "it depends" – on what value the mother wants her unborn child to have. Are they healthy? Are they desired? They're the criteria by which value is measured. Relativism wins the day. 

Far from caring for the vulnerable (Isaiah 1:17), the neediest in society are often marginalised – at times, victimised – and in the process lives are marred and destroyed. 

How important then to recapture what scripture would have us know and live. That all human life has value – not because of our wealth, our ideology or the opinions of those around – but because of who made us and how He made us to be. 

The Bible is clear. Every human is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Each person in the world reflects something of God's character and call. Not perfectly, of course, we are all marred by the rebellion and brokenness that has torn our planet apart since the fall (Genesis 3) but we see something of God in all. Something precious – something beautiful to be sure. 

It doesn't stop there though. Every human is living under the sovereign care of God (Matthew 5:45). Each person is sustained by His powerful hand every moment of every day. All are known by Him too – the intimate details of life never lurk beyond His merciful gaze (Psalm 139). And no-one is beyond His gracious gospel-call (John 3:16). Each individual is more than a stranger – they're a real, or potential, brother or sister in Christ. 

How important then to let those words spill from our lips: to affirm the value of all human life is a counter-cultural call. How important to put into action equality in our churches and protect the vulnerable we meet day by day. 

What a privilege it is to be able to share the gospel of hope knowing that all who turn to Christ are welcomed into His eternal family and, as His precious children, changed to be ever more like Him. What joy it will be in the new heaven and earth when inequality is washed away (Revelation 21).  Is this the message we long to share? 

What value a life? Always precious in the sight of the living God.

Find out more about the Both Lives Matter campaign from the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Alliance which is pursuing the wellbeing of both women and unborn children in the debate around abortion.