For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10
What makes human life valuable, anyway? Is it worth it when weary doctors labor for 16 or 18 hours to save someone’s life? Why bother to screen thousands of people looking for a bone marrow donor to save just one person’s life? Do you ever wonder what motivates people to risk their lives to save the life of someone else?
I’ve been pondering that question, and as I do so my thoughts go back to 1987. I was in Dallas, Texas the weekend an 18-month-old girl was rescued from an abandoned well after a 57-hour ordeal that captured the hearts of people all over the world. Still in my file is the front page of The Dallas Morning News with the headline emblazoned across it in bold letters, “Baby Jessica freed from well.”
The same person who once sang nursery rhymes with her rescuers some 7 meters or 22 feet underground is now married and has a son of her own. Now she simply wants to get on with her life and put the past behind her, something which is perfectly to be expected. Yes, she is profoundly grateful to be alive and will always be grateful to those who risked their lives to save others.
In His ministry, some of the most important conversations Jesus ever had were with single individuals, usually people considered pretty unimportant by society…
Speaking of heroic efforts to save lives, I hear some people say, “You know, some people do things like that,” almost passing off the life-saving effort as a kind of humanitarian “do good” mentality; but I have to remind you that everywhere in the world, people do not risk their lives to save others.
In Asia, for example, the prevailing Buddhist belief is that when you save a life, you have interfered with the person’s karma which would have resulted in death; therefore, if you pull someone out of the water and save his or her life, you are then responsible for that person for the rest of his life. So the attitude of “Why bother?” allows people to step over the dead and dying in the streets and ignore their plight.
In former Communist countries or in areas where Marxist thought has dominated the intellectual landscape, human life is cheap. That’s why China threw thousands of men into the Korean conflict with little thought of human consequences.
Frankly, individual concern for human life has to have a motivation which reflects your spiritual views. When you believe that every person is created in the image of God and that every person has a human soul, you then believe that saving a life—whether it is an unborn child or that of a gray-haired grandmother—is worth the risk and the effort.
The Bible tells us that God views every single person as an individual with value and worth. In His ministry, some of the most important conversations Jesus ever had were with single individuals, usually people considered pretty unimportant by society—the prostitute mentioned in John 8, the woman who was a social outcast described in John 4, a blind beggar at the gate of Jericho (Luke 18), and a corrupt politician who invited Jesus home to dinner (Luke 19:5).
Jesus said, “For the Son came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10), and he didn’t specify that they had to have so much money and so much education.
The bottom line is that God says you are a person of value and worth, and it’s that view that motivates people to face great hazard to save another’s life. Would those who risked their lives to save Baby Jessica do it again? When interviewers asked that question, they replied that they would, in a heartbeat. Ah, thank God for those who care.
Resource reading: Luke 15.