The starting point for any discussion of theological anthropology – how we understand humanity from the perspective of God – is with the creation account. There it makes this radical statement:
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:27 NRSV)
There are, of course, many ways to understand what it means to be walking around with God’s image – one of these I’ll cover in another post soon – but here I want to focus on something indisputable: we are all immensely valuable. Human beings – every single one – is immensely valuable as the pinnacle of God’s creation and granted the image of God to carry out.
Moving into the New Testament, we could focus on another idea: God loves us – every single one of us – so much that he died for us:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
(John 3:16-17 NRSV)
There is no exception ever stated to the “everyone” in this famous verse and the many others like it. God loves every single one of us so much that he went on a rescue mission to win us back.Every single one an image-bearer loved by God.
Image from The National Post (click for source article)
So why do social justice work? The simplest answer: God loves every single human being. We all have an inherent dignity as God’s image-bearers. We all are loved so much that God died to rescue us. No exceptions.
When we combat racism, we do so because every person of every race has this inherent dignity. When we combat sexism, we do so because all men, women, and those who don’t neatly fit in either of those categories are image bearers unconditionally loved by God. When we combat harm done to sexual minorities, we do so because each and every one is bearing God’s image and is unconditionally loved. When we are tempted to shrug off violence done in another country because at least they aren’t the same as us, we must strive to remember that those harmed are just as much bearing God’s image and just as much loved as Canadians are. You? Me? My neighbour? My enemy? You name a person and they are image-bearers of God unconditionally loved.