I now live in a country that is lauded globally for its cheap entertainment, food, and products. I can walk down the street from where I live and buy a quality Thai meal for less than $2. I can go see newly released movies in a high-quality movie theater for $3 a ticket. And I can get a Thai massage for less than $5. In a land where there are so many great things that can be bought for a low price it is important to remember than there is one thing here that is absolutely priceless— the people.
Because of the fall (Gen. 3), we live in a world where the value of people is grossly underestimated. This is exemplified in simple ways, such as when people speak unkindly and uncharitably to others, and it is exemplified in the evilest ways such as human trafficking.
The Bible teaches that men and women are equally made in the image of God and carry equal dignity and worth (Gen. 1:27). The fact that we are made “in the image of God” means (among other things) that we have value. James writes in James 3:9 that we often use our tongues to praise God, and then turn around and verbally assault those made in God’s image. The implication in this verse is that because people are made in God’s image and likeness, they have value, and we should not treat them poorly.
As I live and work among people from the opposite side of the globe from where I was born and raised, I have to remember that every one of them is made in the image of God simply by virtue of being human.
They may not all act exactly like me, talk exactly like me, or like the same TV shows as me, but God loves them because when he looks at them he sees a reflection of himself. For those that are lost, He sees a broken, rebellious reflection—but a reflection nonetheless. The hope of the Bible is that people would give their broken, rebellious, image-bearing hearts to God by placing their faith in Jesus to save them. Then the process of renewing that image into the image of Jesus who is the perfect image of God, begins (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18).
Before that can happen, though, Christians have to acknowledge two things. First, God is worthy of all sacrifice, simply because he is infinitely worthy. Second, people are worth it because they are a reflection of Him. When Christians locally acknowledge that, they will go to great lengths to share the message of Jesus with their families and neighbors, sometimes at great risks to their own personal interests. When Christians globally acknowledge that, they will be willing to come alongside local believers in many different ways. For us, that means being here to learn the culture and language, and coming alongside local believers in the tasks of evangelism and discipleship. For some, that means praying and giving financially to the work being done. Whatever else it means, it means people have value.