What is the worth of human life? Do we value the lives of other people? On a more personal level, do we acknowledge our self-worth?
Billboard reported Oct. 1 that Lauren Daigle’s song “You Say” had just broken the record for the most weeks at No. 1 on the magazine’s Hot Christian Songs chart (fmchr.ch/ldbillboard). Not only has the song spent at least 62 weeks as the top song in the Christian music industry, “You Say” also is a hit on mainstream radio, and it has been performed multiple times on television by Daigle or contestants in singing competitions.
The catchy tune may not be the only reason for the song’s popularity. The lyrics begin, “I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough. Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up. Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low? Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know.” Daigle later sings, “In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity. … Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet. You have every failure, God, and You’ll have every victory” (fmchr.ch/yousay).
Do we find our worth in God, and, if so, do we see the worth of other people too? This issue of LIGHT + LIFE focuses on “the worth of all humans” while simultaneously continuing our yearlong #MyBibleJourney series, which highlights Galatians this month. The issue theme is inspired by a phrase in a recently expanded section of the Book of Discipline that states Free Methodists “are committed to the dignity and worth of all humans, including the unborn, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, color, socioeconomic status, disability, or any other distinctions (Acts 10:34–35) and will respect them as persons made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27) and redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection.”
Modern society has deep divisions that may carry over into our workplaces, our families and even our churches. We can place the blame on social media, talk radio or cable news, but division was common nearly 2,000 years ago in the church of Galatia where the Christians of Jewish and Gentile heritage couldn’t agree whether to obey the Mosaic Law. Paul tells these divided folks, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26–28).
We have clothed ourselves in Christ, but are we accessorizing in ways that place greater emphasis on our favorite celebrity or politician than on the King of Kings?
Paul adds, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:13–15).
It may be hard for some of us to deny the flesh and refrain from virtually biting and devouring each other in Facebook groups or via text messages. B.T. Roberts, this publication’s former editor, wrote in an 1860 issue of his other magazine, The Earnest Christian: “Nowhere in the Scriptures do we find the command, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ limited in its application to those of our complexion. Anyone Providence places within the reach of our kind offices is our neighbor, whatever opinions they may hold, or whatever may be the land of their birth.”
Roberts wasn’t just an editor. He was also the principal founder of the Free Methodist Church, and I think he’d appreciate his denomination’s emphasis on the dignity and worth of everyone from immigrants to unborn babies even when our stances don’t fit neatly into the talking points of people on different sides of the cultural divide. Keep reading for the full text of our statement on the “Dignity and Worth of Persons” along with an article and artwork highlighting women in the Bible. You’ll also read ways in which Free Methodists value human life by fighting human trafficking, supporting foster parents, encouraging organ donation and caring for the spiritual, educational and physical needs of children in the United States and the rest of the world.
Jeff Finley serves as this magazine’s executive editor and previously worked as a reporter and editor for Sun-Times Media.