Does Christianity Have a Beautiful View of Humanity?

(While I am on Sabbatical and holidays, here is another chapter from a book I recently released called “Beautiful and Believable: The Reason for My Hope.” It is available here, and a free ebook version is available on KindleApple Books, and Kobo.)

Does Christianity lead to a beautiful perspective on humanity? Or is it ugly? If the God of the Bible is real, and is love, then we should expect beauty and not ugliness. Some would say it is ugly, setting up some people as better than the rest, creating a people who look down on others. It sets up a hierarchy of worth and value. It sets up some humans, perhaps most, or all according to some, as being worthless. There is no doubt, that we, who are Christians, have sometimes acted or spoken like this is so. But is that accurate? What do the Christian Scriptures teach about the Christian perspective on humanity?

Let us turn first, to the beginning;

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. . . . .

So God created human beings in his own image.

In the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT)

All people are created in the image of God, without exception. This fact unites us in our humanity.

It might be suggested that while this was true of Adam and Eve, it has not been true of anyone since the Fall, that we no longer bear the image of God because of sin. However, consider this early appeal to justice following the Fall;

“And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life. If a wild animal kills a person, it must die. And anyone who murders a fellow human must die. If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image.

Genesis 9:5-6 (NLT)

To paraphrase, “how dare you lift a finger against another person in violence, for all people were created in the image of God and that still matters even though you are no longer in the Garden of Eden.” Every person has worth and value.

Now let us turn to the ending;

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar,

“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne

and from the Lamb!” . . . .

Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.

“That is why they stand in front of God’s throne

and serve him day and night in his Temple.

And he who sits on the throne

will give them shelter.

They will never again be hungry or thirsty;

they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.

For the Lamb on the throne

will be their Shepherd.

He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.

And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:9,10,14-17 (NLT emphasis added)

The Book of Revelation speaks of an incredible diversity of peoples gathered together in Jesus. From this we learn that all people have the opportunity to know God.

To sum up what we learn at both the beginning and end of the Bible, we will never meet a person who was not created in the image of God, and we will never meet a person for whom Jesus did not choose to bear the cross. All people bear the image of God without exception. Without exception, Jesus bore the cross for all people. That is the starting point for a Christian’s relationship with others. It is to be our perspective on humanity.

We see this humanity-valuing perspective in the writings of the Bible, not only at the beginning and the end, but also from beginning to end. For example,

  • When Abraham is called, that calling is ultimately for the sake of all nations, not just Abraham’s descendants.
  • In the Old Testament there are laws that provide for the well-being of the foreigner.
  • Foreigners were welcomed into the community, as exemplified with The Book of Ruth. While the practice of foreign religion among the Israelites was unacceptable, foreign people were accepted.
  • God’s concern for the foreigner was made explicitly clear in The Book of Jonah. Jonah shrank back from God’s call to preach to the enemy, the people of Ninevah, because he knew and was disgusted that God would be kind to them. God did indeed show His kindness to them.
  • Jesus loved all kinds of people, even touching “unclean” people, whom no one would ever dare touch, before healing them.
  • Jesus taught the importance of love for the neighbour, then emphasised that the neighbour is anyone and everyone. Your neighbour could even be those dreaded Samaritans, who can act better than the religious elites by the way, as Jesus pointed out in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
  • God called Phillip for a special mission to the Ethiopian eunuch, who was from a different land, likely had a different skin colour from Phillip, and, being a eunuch, could be described as having a different sexuality.
  • God gave the Holy Spirit to all kinds of people beyond the Jewish people.

From beginning to end, the Bible promotes the value and worth of all people. This covers more than just race, it covers any kind of difference. Consider that in a very patriarchal time and place, there is an emphasis on the equality of the sexes;

So God created human beings in his own image.

In the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT)

Speaking of gender, there is a lot going on with gender in society these days.  Some of us may struggle to understand why a man identifies as a woman, or a woman as a man, or why some don’t identify as either. The starting point for relationship, even when people are beyond our understanding, is this: they are created in the image of God and Jesus chose to bear the cross for them. What will we choose to do for them?

All people bear the image of God without exception. Without exception, Jesus bore the cross for all people. This is true for people who are unique for any reason. 

With each of our pregnancies, my wife and I were offered the opportunity to test for Down syndrome. This would lead to an opportunity to have an abortion. In our minds people with Down syndrome have as much worth and value as any other person. They are created in the image of God. Jesus chose the cross for them. Therefore should a Christian carry on with such a test? 

Speaking of abortion, in my mind, a person in the womb has as much value and worth as a person outside of the womb. This is why Christians often tend to be pro-life. We should understand that nothing is as simple as it seems, that there is a great need for sensitivity on this topic, and people need reminding of the grace of God. Also, we should understand that some people are pro-choice based on their Christian ethic, based on love and concern for moms and women in difficult circumstances. Nevertheless, every person has value and the question is valid; is a fetus just “tissue,” or a person created in the image of God and for whom Jesus bore the cross? I raise this, not to end the conversation, but to begin it.

Given that all humanity bears the image of God, the Christian can not look down on any person as being worth less for any reason. Rather, we are called to love others with the love of Christ who bore the cross for them. The starting point is not “you are so different from me,” but “we are so much alike, in that we are all created in the image of God and we all receive an invitation for relationship with the Divine.” All people bear the image of God without exception. Without exception, Jesus bore the cross for all people. This is the Christian view of humanity, and it is beautiful.

Now consider what can happen when we take God out of the picture. Without the Biblical perspective on humanity, we can easily fall into racism, sexism, or looking down on people because they are different.  If we are indeed the product of unguided evolution, if there is no God, then what is to stop us from thinking that one race has greater value than another? The rat has had just as much time to evolve as the human. We naturally give the human more value and will call exterminators to deal with rat infestations so as to protect humans from disease. What is to stop us from giving greater value to one type of human, even going as far as exterminating other types of humans to protect the “more valuable”? Indeed this kind of thing has happened throughout history. It was not Bible study and a hunger for God that led the Nazi war machine to commit atrocities against the Jews. It was philosophical thinking that applied evolution to society. “We are more highly evolved than you” is ugly. In contrast, “You bear the image of God, Christ bore the cross for you,” is beautiful.

Every single person bears the image of God, regardless of colour, culture, medical conditions, gender, sexuality, or anything else. Jesus bore the cross for every person regardless of colour, culture, medical conditions, gender, sexuality, or anything else. We share this same starting point with every other person without exception. This is a beautiful perspective on humanity and it is helpful to humanity. This is what we should expect if God is real, and God is love. This is yet another reason why Christianity is beautiful.

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