We’ve had some beautiful days this Spring, although there has been plenty of rain as well. None-the-less, being able to be outdoors enjoying the beauty of God’s creative design is a gift that is difficult to overstate.
As I take my bike rides through North Park several days a week, I begin to notice the little things that serve to remind me of God’s design in nature.
Spring is the time when many of God’s creatures multiply. Just today on a rather long straight away near the north end of North Park lake, two ducks and their incredibly cute ducklings were walking in a straight line across the road – duckling, duck, duckling, duck … and they were in no hurry. In fact, cars were stopped in both directions as the ducklings set a very deliberate pace to get across the road.
When the grand transition was complete I couldn’t help but notice that most every driver in the line had a smile on their face and not the normal horn blowing, fist pounding reaction to a delay.
And as undeniably cute as that foursome of birds were, they don’t even come close to the level of dignity that we place on human lives.
I wonder sometimes if the media overload to which we are exposed every day tends to have a dulling effect on our recognition of the dignity of every human being. It’s the simple fact that we were created in the image of God that confers this dignity upon us. Simply put, dignity is worth that has no substitute. It was the philosopher Immanuel Kant who defined dignity as “something for which you have no substitute.” Most things have a price: that’s the value that you can exchange for that particular item or service. If you have the money, you can buy the coat or the ring. One reason that we still have laws that say you cannot sell human beings is because they have dignity. Insightful writers such as C.S. Lewis in his book “The Weight of Glory” and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his classic “Life Together” talk about this dignity. This irreplaceable value that we have.
One of the best ways I know to treat people with whom I may differ in a God pleasing way is to see them with dignity, whether I agree with them or not. This is also the heart of the message that we take to the oppressed peoples of our nation and of the world who may have lost any sense of dignity because of hardship in their lives.
We should, at every opportunity, confer dignity on others and remind them that they are valuable in the eyes of God and therefore that they matter to us as well.
It seems to me that every place that a believer in Christ happens to go, he or she should make a point of looking for ways to confirm the innate value in others. Our culture has found numerable ways of putting people down.
It’s commonplace in most every human encounter for people to size one another up and make some sort of superficial determination about how they would position themselves with respect to someone else. People look for a way to get an advantage, to be controlling and somehow express their own superiority.
This is what leads to the seemingly endless cacophony of criticism, negativity and judgement that literally fills our airwaves 24 hours a day in everything from politics to playing baseball.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with competition or the challenge of seeking to win accolades for achievement except when such activities can only be gained by the diminishing of someone else, the destruction of their dignity.
This is a very profound topic but my purpose in bringing it up is simply to remind us that we’ve been given an incredible position in God’s order of things. We bear His image and therefore are persons of dignity. Every other expression of creation is praiseworthy, but none of them come close to the pinnacle of God’s design and destiny in every human being.