Every Life Matters

Genesis 1:26-27

26Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27So God created human beings in his own image.

In the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

Every Life Matters

Black lives matter because your life matters and my life matters, because every life matters.

Every life matters because every life matters to God. Every life matters to God because every life bears the image of God. God created man and woman to bear the imprint of the image of God and so every man and woman matter.

Money is valued because money carries the imprint of the leaders of a nation. Benjamin prints are worth 100 dollars. Everybody loves Benjamins.

Now the treasury can print many copies of the Benjamin as they wish.

Human beings cannot be just printed. We are not copies of a single imprint of God. Everyone is a unique imprint of God. A life lost is an image of God darkened. Every life matters.

Every life matters to God because we bear the image of God so when God see us God sees God, the way we see ourselves in our children. Every child matters because they carry the imprint of the father and the mother.

The differences of the image of God in the child do not change God’s love. Each difference just makes the expression of God’s love different but not the valuing of God.

I loved Ian when Ian was the only one. Then Elina popped out. I didn’t pop her out. My wife did. I loved Elina and I loved Ian. My love for Elina didn’t subtract from Ian. Then Dylan popped out and I loved Dylan and I loved Elina and I loved Ian, and Dylan didn’t take away from the love of Elina and the love of Ian. I loved three people yet I loved them with same intensity. But I am a finite, temporal being, so it is more tiring to express that love to three people than one person. So even if a 4th comes out I would love that 4th one but I would be worn out so my wife and I made sure there will not be a 4th one.

We get tired of expressing love because we are temporal beings. God is eternal so God can love everyone with his whole heart. This is why God asks us to love God back with our whole heart, because God loves us with his whole heart.

Every life matters because God loves every human heart with his whole heart.

And Ian, Elina, Dylan are so different. Same genes. Same womb. Same home. So different. But the differences do not create different levels of love but creates different ways of loving. My children resonate with different parts of my love. They even draw out different parts of love I did not know existed in me.

God sees his children, and every child is different but God loves every one of them with his whole heart.

That children’s song is true:

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red, brown, yellow

Black and white

They are precious in His sight.

Jesus loves the little children

Of the world.

Yes every life matters because every life matters to God.

The worth of a life is not determined by the society because the society is not God. The society plays God but the society is not God. The society is blind. It cannot see beyond its own needs. So the society prices each life. To the society, each life has different value because to the society the value of a person is its functional value.

So in a society some lives are worth more than other lives. They determine it by class. They determine it by sex. They determine it by color. Racism is valuing of people by color. It is a sin because it plays God. It is the original sin, it is the sin of eating the fruit of good and evil. It is the sin of making human judgment as the judgment of God.

But to God, every life matters.

Black lives matter. White cops lives matter. Because being black is not sin. And being a white cop is not sin.

I heard one white pastor who stood up and said in front of everyone, “I am learning to repent of my whiteness.”

No. He should repent of devaluing others. He should not devalue himself. The way to value others is not devaluing oneself. Those who devalue oneself devalue others.

He should not repent of being white because he is not white and should have never valued himself for being white. Because whiteness does not exist. Just as really I am not yellow. I am Korean. Yellow is a false category. There is no yellow language or yellow culture. So there is no white language or white culture. There is Jewish culture. There is English culture. There is French culture. There is American regional culture. There is the northern culture. There is the southern culture. But there is no such thing as white. To value oneself because one is white is to not recognize that one is of great value because he is in the image of God.

Every life matters.

The two black man shot dead, point blank. Five cops sniped. All those lives, and the lives around those lives, shattered and broken. Reflects the broken heart of God. For they all mattered and still matter to God.

Even the killers matter

Even the lives of the cops that shot the black men. What they did was horrible. But they still carry the image of God. Even if they marred it by their sin, they still carry the image of God.

We remember the story of Cain and Abel. We remember how Cain did a terrible thing of murdering his own brother Abel. We remember how God punished Cain and yet how God protected him also. How God put a mark on him so that no one can take his life away because Cain, even after killing his own brother, still had the image of God. It is the first scandal of God’s grace. It teaches us that every person matters to God.

If we do not value every life, regardless of color, if we do not value every life, regardless of their moral weakness, then we are not recognizing God’s image in them, then we are not recognizing them as children of God, then we are not recognizing God as God.

I have a friend named Andy, a Korean-American, a friend since youth group. I met him 4 years ago at a retreat. We updated each other. He served as a cop in New Jersey for 15 years. There was a shooting. It was black homeless man, hanging around, threatening the clerk of CVS with a box knife. He was mentally unstable and high on drug. Andy’s unit was called to arrest the black homeless man. He told the homeless man to leave the building. The homeless man had a knife and began charging the cops. He doesn’t know who pulled the trigger first. But once the trigger was pulled, “Sam, my fingers and pulled would not let go.” And altogether they shot the man 15 times. “I killed a man.” He was sobbing. His captain gave him time of leave. Then the captain asked to come back. He chose not to go back. He told me he could not pick up a gun again. “It’s been five years,” he told me, “and it still haunts him.”

Can Christ forgive?
Yes.

How many times must we forgive?
70 x 7.

It is not how we get political power.
You are right. It is not. It is how we obey Christ and destroy racism through love.

It is telling the weak to stay weak.
No it is telling the strong to stay strong. It is telling the Christian to stay Christian.

I had him kneel and I took some water and I sprinkled it and said, “Remember your mark? Remember your baptism.”

Every Life Matters because Christ died for them

Every life matters not only because they have the image of God, but because Christ died for them. Every life is not only marked by the image of God, but every life is marked by the blood of Christ.

Because in our sin we mar the image of God in us. Because in sin we destroy the image of God in others, God sent his one and only Son. He is the perfect image of God. He is what the fully alive human being looks like. He doesn’t so much show God. He shows how a human being looks like before the fall, god-like,  bearing the glorious image of God. A fully alive human being is divine like because he has the image of God. And so when we see Christ we see God.

So Colossians 1:15 says “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God”

So Hebrews 1:3 says “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God”

But God made a trade. God made a foolish trade, scandalous trade. God exchanged the life of his Son, perfect and whole for our lives, marred and broken. God sent Christ with the glorious image of God to die for us with the broken image of God so we can be restored to the glorious image of God that is seen in Christ.

God purchased us at a great price. Our life is the life of Christ. So every life matters.

So that children song is right.

Jesus died for all the children

All the children of the world

Red, brown, yellow

Black and white

They are precious in His sight.

Jesus died for all the children

Of the world.

In sending Jesus, restored the image of God in us.

In sending Jesus, God restored the image of God in us and reminded us of our value, that we are worthy the life of his Son for we are his sons and daughters.

And in restoring our image and restoring us to Him, God restored us to each other. God reconciled.

For the brokeness of the image of God in us is the brokenness of relationship. We don’t see the image of God in others, we choose not to see the image of God in the other, we chose to see only our differences. We choose to see our differences as our essences, as if being black is about blackness, an evil; as if being white is whiteness, an evil; as if being yellow is yellowness, a peril, hence the yellow peril. We make our differences our essences.

Not only is this not true as people of faith, it is also unscientific. When we cut our different toned skins, we all bleed red. Color is a spectrum of the tones of our skins. It is not our essence.

When Alton Sterling was shot, it was red blood. When Philando Castile was shot it was red blood as his head went limp and as his neck arched and his body began to slip off the chair like a pieta. When Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa were shot, their blood ran red.

In essence we are the same. In essence we are one family.

And this is what Christ did. Christ destroy our false enmity, our false division, and to make one new humanity, one new family of all humanity.

Ephesians 2:14-16

14For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

So because of Christ the Church stands against racism. The Church overcomes racism through reconciliation.

The Church practices reconciliation even if it seems our society is ripping in the seams. The church lives reconciliation even if it seems racism is impervious because Christ has already reconciled. We do not practice what we hope to achieve. We practice what has already been achieved. We do not live by idealism. We live by the reality of the cross.

When we talk of reconciliation, we are not talking about a flowery idea. We are talking about the blood soaked, flesh tearing reality of the cross. Jesus didn’t just talk reconciliation. He died to reconcile.

Jesus died on the cross, a death so great and tragic that it took all of our tragedy, a death so full of hatred that it took all of our hatred and enmity. The wall of enmity has been broken.

White, black, yellow, red. We are one family. We do not state it and go on with our lives. We declare it and live by it with every cell in our body, because to live by truth is to live free. To live by the truth that we are one is to live free.

In that oneness, our differences no longer divide and in that sense they disappear. So Paul says:

Galatians 3:28

28There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

What a statement! What a powerful statement! What a controversial one. It was controversial than and it is controversial today.

This statement got Paul into big trouble. It got Paul imprisoned. It got Paul sent to Caesar. It got Paul beheaded. For Paul hung out with a Gentile. And Jews hated the Gentile for Gentiles were evil people who were not holy like the Jews, the suffering Jews. But Paul loved the Gentile.

And Gentiles loved Paul and followed him. Many Gentiles looked down at Jews. They were strange people with strange habits. Yet many Gentiles came to call him their teacher, mentor, friend.

Paul was hated for saying there were no Jews and Gentiles. And Paul was hated for being friends with Gentiles, and half Jew and half Gentiles.

And what is this talk about no male or female? That was controversial too. Paul was a feminist before there were any women who were feminists. Male and female is not an essential difference?

And master and slave? The whole economy runs on this. The great Aristotle said there was essential difference and Paul says in Christ there is one.

Most people didn’t believe him. Most people believed that slavery was an essential system, that it can’t be changed.

But he challenged it. Not so much from the outside but from within. Not so much directly but indirectly which meant fundamentally. Not directly at the symptoms, but indirectly at the disease.

We remember how Paul writes aletter for Onesimus. Onesium is a runaway slave. He ran away from Philemon. Paul asks Philemon not just to accept Onesimus without punishment, but to accept him as a brother and not as a slave. What would the world come to if run away slaves were freed.

But that is what the gospel demanded. That is what Paul demanded of Philemon. And Philemon obliged.

Many Christians fathers and mothers lived by reality of the gospel that they were one family and freed their slaves, not after their death but in their lifetime. This changed the whole Roman society. Roman slavery system ceased because Christians lived as Christians.

If the Church chooses to be the Church, if the Church lives by the reality of the gospel, the reality of reconciliation, then the Church will overcome the sin of racism. Yes, only the Church can save the society from racism because the church has the power of Christ who has already destroyed racism through the cross.

When slavery was reintroduced through colonialism. The Church forgot who they were, that they were the Church of God. They forgot and believed they were church of their nation. The Church of England, the Dutch Reformed. So they followed whatever benefited their nation.

But some Christians did not forget who they were. Like William Wilberforce, like Sojourner Truth. They preached the gospel. And they lived the gospel. And the Church woke up and ended slavery.

But racism which was the child of slavery lived on. It lives on till this day. Racism is not eternal. Racism has a birthdate so it will have a death date. The only thing eternal is God. So it is time for the Church to be the Church and for Christians to live by the gospel.

How

First by Christians being Christians and seeing the world through God. Seeing the image of God. Seeing the blood of Christ. Practicing reconciliation in our own lives.

We cannot fix our reactions which is programmed by the society and it is a racial programming. But we can choose how to respond. Everyone has a choice. And your choice matters.

Second by the church being the church and being a diverse church. The secular society is already more diverse than the church. Most churches, 80 percent of the churches are still not diverse. It is a scandal.

I believe God planted this church for such a time as this. And in this church we can talk about racism not as a black church, not as a white church, not as a Korean church, but the church.

And we live as the family of God right here in our community. Yes. What is more important than making political stands is how we live our lives. Political stands are not unimportant. But there is a limitation to what it can change. Political stands changes law and laws need changing. But only love can change the world. But only love can show the world.

We don’t just call the world to repentance. We show them the Kingdom. There is repentance only where there is Kingdom.

“Repent for the Kingdom of God is here!”

We can’t say repent when what we show is racial division. No. The Church is the foretaste of the Kingdom. The Church calls the world to repent only because the Church shows that it ought to be. The Church is the embodiment of hope.

When there is no racism in the church is when there will be no racism in the society.

Roman slavery was undone when Philemons freed Onesimuses. Racism is overcome when white Christians and black Christians say brother. When Korean sisters and white sisters and black sisters hang out.

Yesterday I heard the sisters fellowship was a blast. That many sisters gathered, and there was sharing, lot of sharing, some husband bashing? One family. Sisters in Christ. That’s the church!

When I first came to America, I was placed in the 2nd grade. I was the youngest and I was an FOB, Fresh off the boat. I could not speak English so I kept quiet for a long time. I hated being ashamed.

So I was an easy target. I was new, I was small, an my skin color was supposedly yellow. So my 2nd grade class kids made fun of me, because that is what they hear. Yellow boy. Ching. Then David, and African American, befriended me. I still remember his name. His name is the only one I remember from my 2nd grade. He befriended me. He made me laugh.

And one day, in a line, maybe going to lunch, when he heard the kids making fun of me. He said simply, “Yo, stop.” And they stopped. They stopped.

Every life matters. We are one family of God.