Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Whose Life Matters?

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all...and he died for all that those who live should not longer live for themselves." 2 Cor. 5:14-15.

A war of words concerning whose life matters has erupted and is fueled by ongoing rhetoric on all sides. The effect, in my opinion, doesn't encourage dialogue which can lead to understanding different perspectives, but a wider division and polarization around divergent views.

The Apostle Paul tackled this same problem in his letter to the Galatians. Using the church as a microcosm for society as a whole, what can we learn from him?

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave no free, not is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ." Gal. 3:28.

Religious pedigree was inconsequential. Social status didn't provided a hierarchy doling out preferential treatment. Gender was irrelevant (a really radical idea for that time). Conspicuously absent was the mention of race. Why?

It wasn't necessary.

The Roman Empire was multi-cultural. The aforementioned groups were comprised of every color of skin created. If all are equal, race becomes immaterial. For Paul, there was no need to address an issue that was not an issue at all.

Rome burned in 64 A.D. The emperor Nero was accused of setting the fire and fiddling while flames engulfed much of the city. For once, the emperor was innocent of such maniacal behavior. For one thing, fiddles hadn't been invented yet. The emperor played the lyre and was a decent musician.

In addition, when the fire broke out Nero was about 35 miles away at one of his country homes. Learning of the disaster he rushed to city to help direct efforts to quench the blaze. He also, at his own expense, set up shelters and feeding centers for those left homeless. Despite these efforts, past bad behavior fueled rumors of his guilt. In need of a scapegoat, Christians were an easy target.

Innocent of any involvement concerning the fire men, women and children were subjected to horrific deaths as entertainment for cheering crowds. Ultimately the spectacles produced the opposite reaction. Sickened by the overwhelming number of brutal killings, Romans recognized these were not acts of swift justice against the guilty, but the actions of a deranged ruler.

In neither secular historical accounts nor biblical records are there reports of believers mounting a Christian Lives Matter campaign. Thousands died as a means to appease a populace looking for someone to blame, yet no protests were lodged.

I believe the early church knew a truth we've seem to have forgotten - all lives matter. As individuals in and of ourselves, or as groups, no one is special. None of us are anything to write home about.

"There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Rom. 8:23 emphasis mine.

All translated here means all. Because Christ died for everyone, every life matters...period. He didn't differentiate and neither should we. To hold one group up as special, no matter how innocent or well meaning the intent, only plants Orwellian notions of supremacy.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,"  George Orwell, Animal Farm.

As believers we are best served sticking to Paul's words of wisdom. Rather than championing the rights of selected groups of individuals, we should uphold the importance and sanctity of all life. From the uber rich to those in abject poverty; from the most senior citizen to the newest life in-utero; from those intellectually gifted to those whose mental capacity is marginal at best; from the physically fit and robustly healthy to those saddled with sickness and disabilities; regardless of sex, age, race or any other excuse that causes division...all lives matter.
 As believers we do ourselves, the church, and society as a whole a great service if we refuse to settle for anything less.

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