From the inception of the creation God values life. The whole creation is alive, vibrant, and beautiful. Day after day God makes a glorious environment, full of wonder, woven together in an extraordinary interdependence that is created to make: more life. And when all is ready, when the world is perfect and clean and good, God creates: people.
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:27, 28
We are God’s highest and best creation, more beautiful than the stars, more complex than the earth or the animals, birds, or fish. Intellectually powerful, gifted with pure language, we are designed to live in the Presence of God and in communion with our Creator. And we were perfect. We are so important that as soon as God created humans, He pauses in the whole process to bless us, to instruct us. We alone have the capacity not just to speak, to reason, to grow in knowledge and to create things, we are also spiritual; each of us has a soul, a soul that was designed to live forever. Our God-image is not just a surface likeness that only goes skin deep; in fact, the ways we are like God replicate most importantly His mind, His language, His Spirit. Our flesh, our bodies, are just the housing for our immortal souls. Because God meant us to live forever. God wanted fellowship with humans for all eternity.
God loves us so much, He gave us the keys. God gave humans everything. Genesis tells us that the whole earth is ours to care for. We are the highest creation, so we get to rule this place in God’s name. High stewards of earth, lords and ladies of creation, God gave us the keys. And had Adam and Eve stayed the course and resisted sin, we might all still be walking around naked in the perfect Garden of Eden. But that’s not what happened . . .
We know that through the first humans sin entered creation, we know that the long-term effects of that mess sent the Son of God to the cross to redeem us. Why? Because in spite of our sin, God always values life. And specifically, God values human life. God yearns jealously over the souls He made to inhabit our flesh. So He sent the Lord Jesus Christ to buy back our souls, to forgive and remake us so we can again live forever, and live forever with Him. Why? God doesn’t give up on us. God never gave us on us. God values life not for the here and now but for eternity. We were made to live forever in the Presence of God, and with the New Covenant in Christ, God guarantees it.
So what does that mean for us? If life is so valuable to God, if human life is so valuable to God, life must also be valuable to us. Like God, like our Creator, we must consider human life the supreme life form on the planet. We cannot afford the loss of human life, the frivolous loss of human souls. Everything we do as God’s stewards must imitate the importance of preserving and promoting life for our fellow humans as well as ourselves.
September rolls around, and once again it is suicide prevention month. We are reminded that there are human souls in jeopardy because they have lost the desire to live. Scrambling to find ways to prevent ourselves from rejecting the gift of life that God has given, we react with slogans and quick fixes to a crisis that is with us year ‘round. Why? Because we have failed to value life as God does; our culture has counted human life cheap, and we are borne down by grief, focusing on the end result of suicide, and not the root causes.
Human souls lose worth in their own eyes when they are severed from love, severed from belonging, severed from purpose. In Christ, the Church has the solutions to all three. We are the ones who can love others for Christ’s sake; we are the ones who can bring people into the belonging of the people of God by sharing the Gospel; we are the ones who can help every person find their calling, their God-given talents. And when we reach out to those who are hurting, not arrogantly but with the compassion that radically identifies with souls in need, lives will not just be saved from suicide, souls will be saved. So let’s start by valuing life as God does.