We’re topping international headlines with our news of racially-charged violence, and I’m remembering how, after 9/11, my family’s Ugandan sponsored child wrote to tell us she was praying for our country: she in whose country the LRA was kidnapping children and brutalizing communities while the world at large barely batted an eye.
I’ve been trying to write some of the grief for days now, but it just keeps piling up: Orlando and Dhaka, Baghdad and Medina, Baton Rouge, St. Paul, now Dallas . . . .
I used to start each semester of college English instruction by sharing two basic premises with my students: “Words are important” and “People are important.” I rooted both of them in the first chapter of John.
Words are important because God calls Himself “the Word.” The Word who was in the beginning, who was with God and was God, through whom all things were made.
Our words, though lesser, also have power to make things, to build up and to tear down. Their meanings and their connotations matter. It matters that we understand why it may hurt to respond, “All lives matter,” when we are told that “Black lives matter.” Both of those statements are true, but in so hastily asserting the universal truth, we may actually seem to ignore the importance of the subset, we may seem to imply that, in the big scheme of things, black lives don’t matter that much.
They matter infinitely. And gay lives matter. Southeast Asian lives matter, and Muslim lives matter. Police lives matter; the lives of the snipers who take police lives matter. And the lives of ISIS operatives and the Orlando shooter also matter.
This is what I mean when I assert that “People are important.” John tells us that the Word became flesh — God became a person — and dwelt among us. The Word who produced the stars ex nihilo put on a body formed of the dust of one tiny planet and ached and sweated and bled with us and for us. He stood outside the tomb of a man he was about to raise from the dead, and He wept for a grief He was about to undo. He was spread upon the cross, laden with the sins of the world, to purchase eternal life for everyone who believes in Him.
People are important because God values people at no mean price: the cost of the blood of His beloved Son. And lives matter eternally because it is eternal life Christ bought for us.
The bombs and the bullets for which we grieve send eternal souls to eternal torment or eternal glory, and if we truly believe in the importance of all lives, this is the message we must be preaching. The wages of sin: death; the free gift of God: eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23).
In Christ, all the barriers come down, the categories marked by hashtags and riots: “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:13). Christ was “slain, and by [His] blood [He] ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).
He is building a new kingdom; He is making all things new (Rev. 21:5). He promises to wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:3) — He’s going to undo this grief — but He is the Savior who wept for the griefs He was going to undo.
Brothers and sisters, rejoice in this hope and grieve with the grieving. We, of all people, can confidently declare that lives matter, and we know the reason why. Share that reason: it matters infinitely.
©2016 by Stacy Crouch