Recently, some of my students asked me a question I’ve heard dozens of times since I began teaching. Perhaps it was because of the circumstances driving the question or perhaps it was because I’d already had the spark of an idea for this blog post—regardless, I answered their question differently than I have before.
Previously, I wrote about the veracity of Scripture being based on Jesus’ testimony that the Bible is God’s Word. Every instance in which Jesus refers to the Old Testament is marked by the presupposition that the account being referred to is both true and accurate. One example of this is Jesus’ reference to the miraculous story of Jonah being in the belly of the great fish for three days and nights as a historical reality (Matthew 12:40). Likewise, all assertions found in the New Testament are grounded in Christ’s teachings.
It was a beautiful day; the glory of creation was undeniable, and the fruit looked tempting … or at least it did after that simple but fatal question: “Did God really say …?”
With that discourse, Satan led humanity into a downward spiral of questioning and doubting the perfect and loving words of the Creator, who seeks nothing less than communion and harmony with His beloved children. The question that slithered out so many ages ago continues to echo throughout our fallen race and even within our Church.
If there is a spiritual struggle I’ve heard colleagues and coworkers raise again and again, it’s the struggle to maintain a disciplined prayer life. Perhaps it’s the busyness of our modern lives; perhaps it’s because this is an often-unseen aspect of our Christian walk in the fishbowl of professional ministry. It can be all too easy to fall into the habit of offering perfunctory prayers at prescribed times and hoping those we serve don’t catch on.
There is an existential crisis among our youth. That is not to say that such a crisis is sudden, or even new, to this young generation. In many ways, this crisis is at the root of the many challenges and fears facing our country today. Beyond the political and cultural crises—even deeper than the genetic code of the coronavirus—there is a deep yearning to have a purpose in a world that seems to suggest there is none. The world might suggest such a reality, but nothing is further from the truth. Paul says that God has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing … even as He chose us in Him before the foundation” of the cosmos to be “holy and blameless before Him” (Ephesians 1:3–4).
I don’t remember much from my middle school years, but I do remember one song we shared in our spring choir concert that has stuck with me throughout my life. With summer close on the horizon, a group of pre-teens belted out a rendition of “Greatest Love of All”, Whitney Houston’s appeal to trust children and let them help lead the way into the future. It was a song that expressed trust in the capability of the youth to accomplish great things. At the time, I wasn’t cognizant of how great a gift being trusted to be capable really is. I finished the school year and headed out on my bike into the summer, taking that gift for granted. That was more than thirty years ago.
Repeat after me: “Having been created in the image of God, all humans are equal in value, honor, and dignity.” It’s a statement that I go over and over again in my theology classes. It begins freshmen year, when we encounter God in Genesis muddying his hands as He shapes his beloved creation in His own image. It continues through senior year as students consider the root of ethics: all humans have a common, innate dignity, derived from their relationship with the Creator, which compels that we love one another. Any ethical system devoid of that truth fails to maintain the intrinsic dignity of humanity.