The message of the Gospel is that YOU matter, your life matters. Regardless of your race, sex, political affiliation, or occupation, you matter, and you should be treated as such. This is not a weak nod to all lives matter, but rather an attempt and challenge to look every single person you and I meet square in the face, look deep in their lives, and live out the message of the cross that echoes through time, “you matter to God”, and if you matter to God, then you matter to me. Until we live out the Gospel in every quarter of our lives, seeking to love as Christ has told us to, we cannot yield.
Jesus taught no less than four commands on love. Jesus taught that we are to love God with our entire being. This is absolutely important when we consider how we are to love. We love others because God has given value to them by making them in His holy Image. By loving others, and respecting the innate value given to them by God creating them in His Image, we honor God and show our love for Him. There are many other ways to show our love and devotion to God, but this is surely one of them. It is in this that we see the holiness of the command to love our neighbors, and Jesus expands our understanding of what neighbor is as well to include far more than just those with whom we are acquainted.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40
Jesus also taught that we are to love one another, that is that we who are members of the Body of Christ are meant the love one another, and this is to be in a sacrificial way “Just as [He has] loved [us].” He explained that the world will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. I believe this also goes to the point of us reflecting the true love of God to all people. Think of that for a moment. Jesus said “everyone” will know that we are His by the love we show one another, which is to be modeled after the love He has shown us. If we sincerely think about that, if we truly considered the love He has poured out on and for us, I have no doubt that we would be ashamed by the “love” we have shown to one another.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Jesus even taught that we are to love our enemies. In teaching this along with His other teachings Jesus gives us zero wiggle room when it comes to treating others with respect and dignity. In fact, this command comes with the greatest challenge of all. We are to be “perfect” or “complete”, as our heavenly Father is perfect. The idea here is that God does not have a bias when it comes to doing what is holy. He does not withhold sun or rain because someone is at odds with Him. He does not withhold Himself, even when the ones who need Him most would only seek to insult, beat, disrespect, and crucify Him. God is perfect in His love for all of creation, you and I included.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48
It is by this that I see the overwhelming message from the cross as being one that says in the loudest way possible, “YOU MATTER, You and Your life mean the world to me, and I will give up my life for you.” And if we are to be a people transformed, informed, and inspired by the Gospel, then we MUST live by the message of Christ ultimately lived out in His death on the cross, You matter. You matter, You, the one reading this. Now I issue you two challenges. First, live like you matter in the eyes of God and to His Kingdom. Second, and related to the first, live like everyone you meet matters, live like they are of the utmost importance to God, because they are, just as you and I are. Let this be the call from God’s people-“God sees you. I see you, and you absolutely, without question, matter.”