A few days ago I was helping count an offering at my church. In it was a collection of pennies that had obviously been collected from the street, probably picked up out of a gutter. These coins were scratched, battered, and scarred, having been run over time and again, to the point where Mr. Lincoln could scarcely be recognized. Yet when these pennies went to the bank, every one of them was accepted at face value. They were all worth the same—one cent. The shiny perfect ones were not worth more than the battered, beat-up ones. So are people in God’s eyes.
It is commonly supposed that all spiritual paths lead to God. If that is true, then all religions are more or less equal, using unique, but in some ways similar, means (prayer, meditation) to reach the same Sovereign Deity. This concept sounds just and fair to us as members of a democratic society, raised on the belief that all men are created equal and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” We all have equal votes, so shouldn’t our religious beliefs be equal, producing similar results? You have your “truth,” I have mine.
Though we all have the same right to practice our “religion” freely without government imposing a state religion on us, there are real and radical differences between the various practices that abound. One of the most fundamental differences has to do with how each faith views human life.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition there is a high regard for human life. These are the faiths that believe man was created “in the image of God.” The Bible records God as saying, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” … So God created man in His own image: in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26, 27) God did not say that man was his own god, but that he was made in the image of his Creator.
The Creator could have made man like a dog, to lick his hand. He could have made man like an ox, to till his field. But instead He made man in His own image and likeness. A given soul may not appear precious, but every life is because it has been imprinted with the image and likeness of Almighty God. The image of God may not be easy to discern because its bearer has been run over in the streets of life, any more than Lincoln’s face was recognizable on those scarred pennies. But it has the same value, nonetheless.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, every human life has value, whether sinner or saint, whether male or female, whether young or old, whether slave or free, whether born or unborn. Jesus came to die for all, for all are precious in His and the Father’s eyes. All are loved, whether obedient or disobedient, whether regular or irregular, whether pretty or plain, whether shiny or battered.
No other faiths have the regard for human life that Judaism and Christianity have. No other faiths have championed human rights and produced the medical and scientific breakthroughs that these two have. No other faiths have produced the humanitarians. We all have equal rights to practice the religion of our choice, but let me ask this: Does every faith have a high regard for human life? Does it speak of the Creator’s love for man? When the sandal strikes the path, does it produce the same results?
If all faiths are not founded on the same principle of a high regard for human life, how can they have the same practices? How can they have the same human rights? How can they produce the same results? How can they lead to the same place and to the same God?