I bet you could look at this page of different gems and find some that you like over others. You could go to different Jewelers in different countries and discover that these gems have a varying value depending on where you are, the difficulties of refining them/mining them etc, as well as the country’s preference.
The question I want to ask though, is not how precious something or someone is to you, but rather, how can you define what value is in the first place, and what does it mean?
Let me post my disclaimer now before I need to insert my foot in my mouth; I want you to understand what my purpose–that is, the way in which I intend to achieve my purpose–for writing. I am not going to enter into a deep theoretical, methodological, philosophical debate about value and worth. Rather, I am going to bypass all of that, mostly because I don’t have years of intense study, knowledge, and…tact to be able to present the “how you can be confident and why its this over that….” I’m going to allow you the option to explore this deeper.
What I AM going to do, is discuss my personal struggles, the answers I found, and how this is far better than what is offered “out there.” I am going to do this, by using myself, certainly my most recent experiences and thoughts, to illustrate, and if needed I’ll also use an outside source.
I know I posted….two disclaimers? (Really, just one, with an overly detailed explanation of what I mean, because…I’m wordy like that.) However, it may be just as prudent to restate the point of this blog in general, specifically, this particular section for College students (current and future). I want you to think, and I want you to know that you have the freedom to think, to disagree, and to LOOK for truth! Search for truth! Every post, is basically, my inward struggle, a conflict I face as a Christian student, and citizen in general, the traps and puzzles I have encountered and/or have seen in College courses, etc, as well as what resources I have found, the answers I have found, etc.
You don’t have to believe it, I only ask that you think about it. That’s it.
What is Intrinsic Value.
This is a difficult question, and it is important enough to where it cannot be ignored.
In the past I was blessed with an opportunity to share God’s love and truth with wonderful women who were apart of Rethreaded’s program. These women came out of prostitution, and/or some other form of sex trafficking. These women were hurting, but so was I. I was in a very sensitive and difficult time in my life, certainly in my walk with Christ, and I had been just learning–over the span of….perhaps a year–about my Identity as a Christ-follower, and what it meant to be His, and how I should live, and move, and operate now that I had been made new and no longer needed to yield to the ways in which I used to live.
The questions I asked were, who am I now? What does this mean? What should I do, and how should I live? Where do I find my worth, and my value? Why does this matter? and how do I function in Your family? Where is my place there?
I asked these questions in late 2012 to early 2013, and later that year I went through a bible study by Mark Drischol titled “Who Do You Think You Are?” I highly recommend this as he addresses some very important issues. (Another forewarning, Mark Drischol is Very, truthful–much like Matt Chandler–but I greatly respect his love for God, and God’s design for him.)
I won’t address every single thing here, but I will tell you this:
You have a value that cannot be taken away from you BECAUSE, this value does not come from how skillfully you play the Violin, or how well you perform in school. This Value is not limited to how you see yourself when you wake up, how other people treat you, or how you feel throughout the course of the day. There will be people who see something precious in you, and will selfishly attempt to wrest it from you for their benefit. Rest assured, no matter what happens to you, what you do to yourself, what you think about yourself, what others think of you, how well you perform or how many times you fail…YOU HAVE VALUE THAT NO ONE CAN TAKE AWAY FROM YOU.
Why? Because God designed us in such a way that we have value from before we are even conceived in the womb. Why again? Because our worth and value, are imputed to us, and is contingent only on the reality that God loves us, and made us in His image that we may be receptors of His love for the purpose of reflecting His love and glory throughout all of creation. That is why (and forgive me nonbelievers because this portion is not for you and I will explain why shortly,) when it is written in Romans 8, that nothing can seperate us from God’s love, that is true. God has chosen to love us, and has demonstrated that love when he sacrificed his ONLY Son (who humbled himself into a broken and weak form of man so that He could die; becuse Jesus is the son of God, but He’s also God the Son) to die in our place and in doing so purchased our freedom, our forgiveness, and opened the way to His Father, that we may be reconciled to Him…
Let me assure you that we don’t deserve that. At all!
The first point is this: How our Creator sees us determines our worth, it is how He values us that determines whether or not we have value.
I’ll give a quick example…..
Let’s say I’m a sculptor and I just got finished constructing some sort of small statue out of marble. This staue is small, and as I was working on it, I screwed it up somehow, fixed it, but didn’t like how it turned out. I decide to sell it anyway, but because I didn’t like it as much, I sold it for a lower price than the ones that I did like. The amount of money I sold it for, depicted how I felt about its worth.
Now let’s put it in another scenario….let’s say this same statue I made, I decided not to sell. It wasn’t as good as all the others and wasn’t “sell worthy” but it had a certain charm and I decided to keep it for myself. Now, let’s say this staue was worth about $150, and one day it was stolen from me by someone who hates me and wants to make my life miserable. (I’m sure I have those somewhere….) This enemy of mine decides to sell it at an auction, and it sells for $1500.
In this time, I have learned of who now has posession of my $1500 statue, and I tell them that this was mine, it was stolen from me, and I would like it back. They laugh, not buying my story (though its true) and tell me that if I want it, I will have to pay them twice the amount they paid, plus interest. Now I’m a college student….so I’m broke, but I want my statue back desperately…so….I sell whatever I can, even the most precious things to me that are sellable, like my laptop and my tablet, and my keyboard, so that I can get this staue back. I do garage sales, wash cars with “suggested donations” and mow lawns so that I can make up extra money I need on top of the doubled fee. After many months and hard work, and perhaps a bit of overtime, and much sacrifice (because I am now a student with lots of homework and no laptop at home) I finally make up the funds and then some, return to the new owner of my statue, and fork over an amount equivalent to about two full paid for semesters of college including the purchase of all materials require, even lunch. So about 4500 dollars. After that, I get to happily walk home with my statue returned to its proper place in my home.
Even though this statue was, in the beginning, worth perhaps a small amount as far as meterial and laborcosts go, in the end because I was so willing to buy back what already belonged to me for such high a cost, I demonstrated, that really, that statue was worth far more to me than simple material costs, to the point that I was willing to humble myself and work hard to buy back what was already mine. This simple illustration is why God’s action shows us how great our value really is. We belong to Him because He created us, but then we rebelled against Him and decided to go our own way because He was not good enough for us, and His ways were not in our best interest. God could have left us there to suffer his wrath, which we justly deserve, but instead He chose to love us, and buy us back, when we were already His because he made us.
So, why am I saying all of this?
College is hard, and every semester is, in one way easier, and in another harder. The higher I go in the ranks, the more difficult to digest the material, the more opportunities I will have to encounter people, and subjects that are against what I believe, and at the same time, I have noticed how fragile my mind is.
I am weak. I am susceptible to forgetting obvious truths, overlooking what’s in front of me, and living and treating myself very much like the robot that school seems to want me to be. I am overloaded with work (and I know I’m preacing to the choir here,) and somehow my mind is supposed to be capable of digesting four or five different subjects, read innumerable amounts of material and understand the content beyond simple regurgitationn, and somehow work as close to fulltime as I can because I have bills to pay, and somewhere find time to remind myself that I am human and NOT a machine. There is a person attched to the mind, a heart attached to the body, and soul that dwells within. Those things matter.
I have been very tempted, and have really seen, how easy it is to really, at the end of the day, buy into the lies of the world around us simply because its easy to do, or to shut up the noise, and even worse, to be so mixed up that you can’t tell up from down, flying from falling, and the difference between your own personal thoughts and that of someone else’s.
May I encourage you, and may I have the privilege of encouraging myself also, that the “system” does not define you, the God of Heaven who created you does, and He loves you to the point of sacrificing the most precious and priceless person to Him; his Son, who loved His Father, trusted His Father, and cared for you–anticipating the desired result–so much that He willingly came as both a perfect sacrifice before his God, and our Saviour.
This is what I meant when I said “this is not for nonbelievers.” I, to put things into context, was referring to a particular verse that was written specifically for those who have acknowledged their need for God, and have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice to God–ackowledging that He did it for them and that there is no longer any need for them to continue sacrificing. It is Done. It is Finished.
Does this mean, then, that God does not love nonbelievers, those who hate God, and are not followers of Christ? No. He loves them. In fact, Romans 5 verse 8 states (NLT version):
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
The term “sinners” in this text is referring not to the act of sinning, but to our position in God’s eyes. I make this distinction, because Christ followers are NOT perfect, we still sin…the fundamental difference is what cannot completely be seen by the eye, and that is the reality that we are spiritually reborn in Christ by His Spirit. We are now indwelled by Christ, and as such, are marked as His, but are also raised to “new life.”
Does God love people who hate Him? Yes! At one point or another, WE ALL DID! Some still do, and some of them always will. However, God gives us an opportunity to choose, and the process of choosing begins at hearing and responding.
Let me make this clear, because its a bit difficult….
God loved you before you ever entered the world we reside in, however it is your acceptance or rejection of that love that will determine where you find your TRUE worth, and whether or not you will actually find it. I promise you its there, and no one can take it away…..but do you see yourself the way He does?
I dare you to try. I dare you to consider…..
Forgive me if I have confused you at all. I will reread this later on my laptop to double check any spelling errors and such, and reread to make sure the content makes sense. I will update accordingly.
Some passages of scripture, if you’re interested, is Ephesians 1 (and really, the entire book of Ephesians is all about Identity), Genesis 1, 2, and 3 (the last chapter is the fall of man, but I find God’s response amazing. In fact, the reality that there is another chapter is a testimony in itself to God’s love), Romans 1-8, and perhaps even 5-8 but this is a tough read.
Edit: I would like to include a link to RZIM, which is an amazing organization founded by Ravi Zacharias. He talks about so many important subjects and studied this kind of thing for the majority of his life. This is his profession, and I greatly appreciate his position and his sensitivity to the value of human life, and healthy fear of God. I have found a lot of his resources helpful, but it can be a bit tricky to digest some of it, maybe even most.
Here is a link to a particular podcast that pretty much addresses the question of what it means to be human. I encourage you to listen, even if you disagree with it afterward, and I encourage you to check out the site.
I will not be upset if you don’t.
This concludes my edits, and I appreciate your patience for sticking through my rough illustrations and thoughts. Thanks for reading, I love you all, and have an awesome rest of the day!