Today's guest post comes from Uwe Bower, a dear friend of mine and core member of STSA Church in Arlington, VA. In today's post, Uwe challenges us to think deeply about the meaning and value of an individual life. What's a life worth to God and what therefore should it be worth to us? If you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
A group of 12 friends, all teenagers, and their soccer coach, are on a cycling trip out in the countryside. They discover a cave in the mountains, and start exploring it. They leave their bicycles behind and walk deeper and deeper into the cave, for miles and miles.
And then it starts raining. A lot. The cave quickly fills with muddy water, and the way out is blocked. The boys and their coach are trapped in the dark end of a long tunnel with no light.
This happened in late June in northern Thailand. Although the boys have been discovered by a group of courageous British cave divers, and first aid has been supplied to them, it has so far proved extremely difficult to get the boys out. New rain is filling the cave faster than pumps can bring water out.
The local farmers have agreed that the water pumped out of the cave can flood their farms and fields. They have essentially sacrificed their harvest, a full year’s income. One of the rescue divers has already lost his life. It is now being considered to drill a whole into the mountain, half a mile into solid stone. But this risks collapsing the cave and burying the boys alive.
The case has received global media attention, and people around the world are hoping and praying that the rescue efforts succeed.
It is truly impressive how all involved go out of their way, move heaven and earth, and bring extreme personal sacrifice, just to get those boys out alive. We value human life. We do all we possible can to save it. This seems obvious, everybody can agree on that. But it is less obvious than it seems.
Unfortunately, the dignity of the individual human life is not equally valued in all cultures.
In some parts of the world, the collective counts more than the individual, and the single human being is not considered more than a drop of water in the ocean, indistinguishable and inseparable from the collective. Some might argue that lots of people die every day, in wars, tribal violence, car accidents and natural disaster. Why make so much fuss about 12 kids in a cave?
This is not the Christian worldview I know. In fact, it was the Judaic-Christian tradition which has inspired and helped establish the global consensus of human rights in the first place.
It is the Triune God of the Bible who created man (and woman) in his own image (Genesis 1:27). Individually, one by one. He is the one who saw us when we were formed in our mother’s womb, who had good thoughts about us even before we were born (Psalm 139:13-16). He is the one who sent his only begotten Son to be one of us, so we would not be lost in darkness. And it has been said that, even if there had been only one single person on earth, God would still have become man to save him.
For our God, the individual counts. He left nothing undone to save us. No sacrifice was too great to get us out of the darkness. It is that sense planted deep down in our hearts, alive even in the fallen creation, that drives us to do everything we can to save our beloved ones if they are trapped in a dark cave, in Thailand or wherever.
Thailand may be an extreme case, and it is far away. But what about the value and dignity of life of those closer to us?
What about the dignity and value of all those unborn human lives who will not see the light of day? Are we doing everything we can to rescue them?
Or what about those tucked away in the darkness of nursery homes, prisons, immigrant detention centers, or simply those lonely souls all by themselves in anonymous apartment blocks with little contact to the outside world? Obviously, you and I cannot move heaven and earth for each of them. But we can ask God to put someone on our hearts, to stir up in us a specific cause for those without a voice.
Our God is a god of life. He cares about us individually, and he wants us to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19). Today, let us choose life! Even if it takes moving heaven and earth to get there.