This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “King & Country: The Story That Changes Everything,” coming in summer 2017.
The image of God is engraved on every human life, endowing them with innate, inalienable value. There are areas in which the church has understood the value of image-bearing humanity and shines as a testimony to the world. The fight to protect unborn children is a prime example, and for decades, evangelicals have borne courageous witness to the sanctity of human life. This is a sanctity based not on perceived usefulness but inherent value, not on what a person can do but on what they are. The church defends the life of the unborn because within the veins of fetuses flows the royal blood of divine regents. This battle is waged on multiple fronts, from the political arena where laws to protect the innocent are legislated, to the social sphere where unwanted babies are adopted and pregnant mothers are cared for, to the spiritual realm where God’s people regularly pray against the forces of darkness who hate both God and his image imprinted on every infant.
There are other areas, however, where we fall woefully short in our pro-life consistency. All too often, we evangelicals are shamefully double-minded when it comes to the sanctity of life. We are quick to defend the unborn, but slow to speak in defense of others who are also voiceless and oppressed. We enthusiastically rally to support politicians who claim pro-life credentials, while simultaneously championing policies aimed at diminishing the dignity of other categories of image-bearers. We view those across the dividing lines of race and politics with suspicion, mistrust, and fear, forgetting that human value is not based on zip code, skin color, or voting history, but on the divine pronouncements made in the garden and at Golgotha. It is said that Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in American life, as we divide off into our comfortable enclaves of like-minded, like-skinned believers. Our untroubled tribalism cuts off any hope for dialogue with those different than us, and our lack of dialogue fuels a lack of compassion. We are disturbingly untroubled by deep-seated personal and institutional discrimination, sky-high incarceration rates, child hunger, and poverty, probably because they afflict those who seem different from us. This is unacceptable in a kingdom made up of a reconstituted humanity of every nation, tribe, and tongue. Discrimination of any kind, anywhere, is the defacing of the image of God and an assault against the perfect image of God, Jesus Christ himself. To side with those who are similar to us, against those of a different skin color or language or nationality or economic status, is an act of treason against the God-Man’s kingdom. When we mock the poor, or shun immigrants, or fear a different race, or demonize those with different views than ours, we are taking up the abortionist’s knife and implicating ourselves in the same crime, making a mockery of our supposed pro-life stance.
O Church, we must repent of the ways we have dishonored God by disdaining his image in others. Let’s be the kingdom we are called to be, a kingdom where the image of God is being restored in us as we treasure it in others. Let’s be known as those who honor those who are different from us and who go out of our way to defend the dignity of all. And as we march onward in love and compassion, the face of Jesus, who is the perfect image of God, will be more clear for the watching world to see.