A woman stands on the street outside the massage parlor where she solicits sex. It’s her only means for livelihood. Then there’s the man who walks the town murmuring to himself while smoking his cigarette. Everyone holds their breath as they walk by him because he hasn’t showered in…well, in a long time. Every now and then I see him with some booze sitting on a park bench. Have you seen him? Then there’s the woman who frequents the restaurant downtown by herself. She is morbidly overweight and her clothes don’t fit her well. She struggles with acne and her thin, greasy hair falls to her shoulders. She’s not even courteous enough to smile back at me. Oh, and I can’t forget about that lazy coworker we’ve all had. You know, the one that doesn’t work hard…OK, maybe he doesn’t work at all. He’s also really awkward to talk to and doesn’t hold a conversation well. So he eats his lunch alone and no one ever joins him. But who could blame them, right? I mean, he’s really awkward…
I’ve pitied them. I’ve rejoiced that I wasn’t them. In my heart, I’ve believed that I was better than them. But the revelation of just how equal we are sinks deep into my soul, and it is only in this place of humility that I can begin to respect them, to value them, to love them as Christ loved them.
The truth is that we all play into this “value system.” What do you value? Or better said, what is most important to you: Beauty? Fitness? Success? Often the values we pursue are the same values by which we judge others. If I value (and pursue the value of) hard work, then I would likely consider myself more valuable than my lazy, unmotivated coworker or the homeless man on the street. Or if I value education, then I would likely consider myself more valuable than the high school drop-out. If I value beauty, then I would likely value the beautiful, young waitress more than the unattractive, lonely women in the restaurant.
We most often use this value system to judge or compare our worth, and in so doing we judge the worth of others. We’re better than some people, and maybe not quite as good as others. The question we must confront is this: what makes us valuable? Is it our attractiveness? Is it our ability to lift the most at the gym or put on makeup and look decent? Is it our success in school or in the workplace? Is it our social or economic class, or our fashionable and trendy clothes? How about the part we play in a local charity or church? Does that make us valuable? Does it add to our value or worth?
It doesn’t at all, and yet how often do we live as though it does? If our greatest value is Christ, and our value is found in Him, shouldn’t that be sufficient? Shouldn’t the relentless pursuit of Jesus toward us be impressionable enough that nothing else matters? Shouldn’t the reality of eternity remind us daily that our life in Christ must communicate and reflect the value of Christ Himself?
As I focus on our value in Christ, I pray that these other values by which we judge and compare will be left at the cross where Jesus died for the rich and the poor, the ugly and the beautiful, the lazy and the motivated, the whore and the saint.