Over the past week, protesters have filled the streets in major cities citing that Trump is not their president. Their complaint is that he is racist, sexist, bigoted and many other things not worth printing. While I do not agree with their message, our constitution gives them the right to protest. I also believe it gives us Christians the ability to engage them in a spiritual conversation.
Today, I do not intend to write a political blog, so if you’re hoping for hot conservative opinions, you will probably be disappointed. Instead, today I want to show you how you can engage in a meaningful conversation with people who may think this way. At the center of the protester's argument is the concept of human dignity. They believe that Trump will not treat Hispanics, Muslims, the Gay Community, and African Americans fairly.
This is what is causing a meltdown for many because they believe that everyone should be treated with dignity.
This is where the spiritual conversation can come into play. The fundamental question is where does the concept of human dignity come from? In a recent book I read, Sapiens, author Yuval Harari states:
“For close to 4 billion years, every single organism on the planet evolved subject to natural selection. Not even one was designed by an intelligent creator….For billions of years, intelligent design was not even an option, because there was no intelligence which could design things (p. 397).”
He goes on to explain that humans are evolving to a point where they are becoming the designers. In other words, we are becoming gods. Look at what he says:
“But as the twenty-first century unfolds, this is no longer true: Homo sapiens are transcending those limits. It is now beginning to break the laws of the natural selection, replacing them with the laws of intelligent design (p. 397).”
For Harari and those like him, their worldview does not allow for the concept of human dignity.
So, if Harari happens to be right, then man is evolving and continuing to evolve, but there are still grave injustices in the world, and there is still rage as evident this past week. Natural selection and evolution have no real answers for this concept. Yet, we are seeing it everywhere. So why are people raging if we are a product of mere gene mutations? Simply, people believe a great injustice has been done and that their dignity certainly will be robbed. They are hard wired with a sense of right and wrong, and that can only come from God. In Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God, John F. Kilner states:
“Recognizing humanity’s creation in God’s image has played a significant role historically in freeing people from the ravages of need and oppression. The outlook of Clement of Rome charted this course in the earliest centuries of the church:
‘You should do good to and pay honor and reverence to man, who is made in the image of God: … minister food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, hospitality to the stranger, and the necessary things to the prisoner; and that is what will be regarded as truly bestowed upon God.’
Both this perspective of needy people created in God’s image and that of Christian service as conforming to the image of Christ, became powerful motivators for helping people in poverty. In contrast, people outside the church during its earliest years exhibited relatively little concern to poor individuals (Kilner, p. 8).”
Kilner also points out with the help of other scholars that “The image of God is a starting point with orienting power for Christian theology (Michael Gonzalez), the necessary bridging concept (Ben Witherington III) which makes it part of “the essence of Christianity (Vladimir Lossky).”
The protesters marching in the street for justice or the person by the coffee pot in your office complaining about how President-Elect Trump will treat people unfairly do not know that they are unwittingly using concepts of man being created in the image of God, so we need to connect the dots for them.
I see really only two choices in engaging. First, when we see an opportunity to connect the dots for people about being created in God’s image, we take it. Maybe it is simple questions like:
“Why do you feel these rights are important?”
“Who determined these rights?”
“Does every one in every country deserve these rights even if they live in totalitarianism? If so, why?”
“Could it be that all men are given these rights because they were created in the image of God and therefore must be given dignity?”
You can frame it how you would like, but this gives you an opportunity to have a conversation.
Secondly, and this one may be a little more difficult, we must treat everyone with the dignity they deserve. When we see injustice, we must act righteously. We must listen with compassion and empathy. We must apply mercy and grace to many situations. Quite frankly, our words as Christians will be judged by our actions. Therefore, just as we are passionate about defending the truth with our words, we must also be that vigilant living it out publicly through our deeds. After all, Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” May God bless you today and give you opportunities during this season.