Here is something that I categorically did NOT enjoy writing, because I found my own conclusions to be terribly convicting. That’s always something, isn’t it?
Every Christian walks an ethical tightrope in today’s world. On the one hand, believers have a certain set of notions, a Biblically proscribed worldview, which is to govern each and every thought, action, belief, etc. On the other hand, the bulk of Scripture makes it very clear that those without a saving faith in God cannot be expected to have the same worldview; “they are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” 1 A view of life shaped by the God of the Bible and a view of life shaped by world and self are inevitably going to clash.
Contrary to most popular teaching, Christians ascribe to the view that “not only the natural world but our existence as humans points toward God. . .For our ultimate identity we are dependent on a transcendent reality, the divine Creator.” 2 The creation account in Genesis takes this notion one step farther, illuminating that humans are, in fact, “made in the imago Dei (‘image of God’).” 3 Thus, Christian belief necessitates that each and every life has value, purpose and meaning. Though man has sinned, and that grievously, nothing in Scripture implies that this divine image, that this specific significance, has been stripped of humanity. People may be dead in their sins 4 before coming to a saving faith in God, but this does not mean that they do not bear something of His mark.
In general, these considerations have led most Christians to oppose “whether and when people have the right to choose abortion,” 5 and many to take the pacifistic stance of opposing war. While these are important points for each believer to wrestle with, those about whom Jesus had much to say may well end up being lost in the shuffle: the poor. “For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me. . .I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” 6
Nothing in these verses suggests that believers are to extend such care only to those who know the Lord. Who are the least in neighborhoods around the country? Even in the world? Perhaps they are Muslims – even Muslims who hate Americans. Perhaps they are Satanists. Does such diametric opposition to the faith of a Christian give those Christians leave to ignore their plight? Absolutely not. In recognizing that all human beings are made in the image of God, and are therefore possessed of inherent worth and dignity, the arms of any Christian person must be open to embrace and help anyone, just as the arms of Jesus were. This does not mean that truth must be compromised, but rather that truth is given real life and applicability. Believers need “spiritual wisdom given by the Holy Spirit that both humbles and enlightens, enabling [them] to see with new clarity” 7 in dealing with and extending help to broken people. After all, it was not so long ago that any believer was in the same state.
1 Eph. 4:18.
2 Stanley J. Grenz. Theology for the Community of God. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994) 139.
3 Gregory A. Boyd. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2009), 97.
4 Eph. 2:1.
5 Boyd, 98.
6 Matt. 25:35, 40.
7 Art Lindsley. True Truth: Defending Absolute Truth in a Relativistic World. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 173.