Good News: We Are More Valuable Than We Think
What is this “Good News,” which is supposed to be the reason many of us gather to worship and serve God together? I am certain that you can find far too many answers to that question—some really good and some really bad. I would like to suggest that there is a very biblical and powerful master story at the heart of the Good News.
God loves us so much that God wants us to know –
- We are more valuable than we think
- We are more broken and bent than we think
- We are more salvageable than we think
In this post, I would like to think together a little about the first part of that Good News: “We are more valuable than we think.” In following posts, I will look at the other phrases.
It is tragic that Christianity has come to be stereotyped by many as a religion with a degrading and negative view of what it means to be human. As usual, we have done much to bring this upon ourselves, but it is a travesty. If anything, we should be accused of having an unbelievably arrogant view of what it means to be human (and, in fairness, some do accuse us of this as well).
There is an old creedal statement that asks, “Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?” and, then is answered, “A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him.” Even if we remove the gender problems in this ancient formulation, we still have one of those half-truths that, when left standing alone, becomes less than true.
Standing alone, the creedal statement is easily heard as presenting us with a God who has a needy, super-ego, and with humans who are somewhat flat and demeaned.
However, if we add an equally powerful biblical claim, then the old creedal statement becomes a celebrative reality. The other half of this truth might be worded like this: “Q. And, what is the chief purpose of God in creating humans? A. God’s chief purpose is to glorify humans.”
This concept deserves a book, but for this blog, two starting points will have to suffice.
First, “to glorify” in the Hebrew and Greek biblical origins has meanings such as “heavy presence,” “splendor,” “good forcefulness,” “beauty,” “bright light,” and “forceful character.” So, if God’s purpose is to “glorify humans,” then God’s purpose is a process that is moving humans into a much fuller dimension of humanness than what we see around us at the moment.
Second, in discussions with quite astute seminary professors and students, as well as very bright pastors, I have encountered again and again the response, “But, the Bible doesn’t teach that God wants to glorify humanity.” How strange since it does—over and over again—make exactly that claim concerning God’s purpose in creation.
Here are a few (and there are many more) of the biblical statements that define God’s creative process in history as God’s desire to glorify us humans—to fulfill us as beings “in the image and likeness of God” with the “heavy presence and empowering” of God’s own character:
- Psalm 8:3-5 – 3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,the moon and the stars that you have established; 4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? 5 Yet you have made humans a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory (kavod) and honor (hadar).
- Romans 2:6-11 – 6For God will repay according to each one’s deeds: 7to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory (doxa) and honor (tima) and immortality, he will give eternal life;8while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10but glory (doxa) and honor (tima) and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.11For God shows no partiality.
- Romans 3:23-24 – For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory (doxa) of God;24they are now given a right relationship by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Jesus the Messiah….
- Romans 8:18-19 – 18I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory (doxa) about to be revealed to us.19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God;
- Romans 8:28-30 – 28We know that all things work together toward good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom God foreknew God also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.30And those whom God predestined God also called; and those whom God called God also gave a right relationship; and those whom God gave a right relationship God also glorified (dokeo).
- 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 – 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
- Philippians 3:20-21 – 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus the Messiah. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.
- Hebrews 2:8-10 – Now in subjecting all things to humans, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to humans, 9but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
- James 4:10 – Humble yourselves before the Lord, and the Lord will exalt you.
- 1 Peter 5:6 – Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that God may exalt you in due time.
Please note that the first of these quotations from Psalm 8 is a meditation on Genesis 1, and it was written long before any of God’s people knew that there would be a Jesus who would come on the scene. Nevertheless, the Psalmist is convinced that God’s purpose in the creation of the universe, as we know it, is that God wants to crown humanity with God’s heavy presence and empowering. No political party, no philosophy, no religion, no pop fad, and no atheism even come close to this audacious claim concerning the value of humans. If it is a claim made up by us to protect ourselves from a meaningless and purposeless universe, it is arrogant and delusional. If it is God’s truth about us, there is no proper response by any human who is being offered such a gift, other than to glorify such a God!