I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. Romans 1:14-15
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:16
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27-28
Perhaps nobody in Scripture went through a more radical change in worldview than the Pharisee named Saul. As a Pharisee among Pharisees, he thought he had the world figured out. He had the puzzle all put together and, though there were some inexplicable gaps in the picture here and there, it all made sense…basically, anyway. According to that worldview, the missing pieces would be filled in when the Messiah comes. And in that worldview, there were two kinds of lives in this world: Jewish lives (which mattered) and all the others (which mattered less).
Twenty years later, as a converted Christ-follower writing to churches in Corinth, Rome, Galatia, et. al., he would show astounding wisdom and a very different worldview…a gospel centered worldview. According to that worldview, the Messiah had already come and we already had all the pieces there are to have…and they all fit together more perfectly and completely than he could ever have imagined. No more inexplicable gaps. It was a beautiful and perfect worldview. And in this new worldview, all lives mattered.
In the 2,000 years since Paul’s written presentations of this new way of seeing the world, many other worldviews have come and gone. And today, in the U.S. alone, scores of different worldviews abound…lots of “lenses” through which we each view and try to explain the world around us. There are political worldviews (e.g., liberal/conservative), racial worldviews (e.g., black/brown/white), religious worldviews (e.g., muslim/Christian/”nothings”), socioeconomic worldviews (e.g., lower/middle classes), geographic worldviews (e.g., Northern/Eastern/Southern/West Coast/Heartlands), and there are generational worldviews (e.g., Boomers/Gen X/Millennials). Some worldviews we choose for ourselves and some are thrust upon us by life. But none are more pervasive and disruptive to the ways of this world than the gospel centered worldview. And one of the most troubling aspects of the gospel centered worldview (so troubling, in fact, that it would become a mantra to the Apostle Paul, who faced opposition to it at every turn) is that it is “no respecter of persons” i.e., it shows no partiality, i.e., it does not regard anyone according to the flesh.
In terms of our current culture and the various worldviews which interpret it, this means the gospel centered worldview perceives that all lives matter equally. Who knows? It may even be what President Abraham Lincoln meant in his Gettysburg address that we are “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”. In other words, every life matters…the black life and the brown life and the white life; the life only just conceived in its mother’s womb and the life fully lived and nearing its end; the educated life and the uneducated life; the citizen’s life and the alien’s life; the heterosexual’s life and the LGBT’s life; the impoverished life and the billionaire life; the capitalist’s life and the socialist’s life; the peacekeeper’s life and the terrorist’s life. They all matter. Equally. In the eyes of the gospel, none of them are more important than the next. None of them are privileged or entitled to more than the next. The gospel finds them all at the same exact place of spiritual desperation and values them equally.
That value system, of course, conflicts rather sharply with virtually every other worldview you or I may share. And, to be sure, there are distinctions and categories of life that actually do matter a great deal in this temporal world for a variety of very temporal reasons. But the gospel centered worldview, while having one eye on the temporal, casts another eye on the eternal; from an eternal perspective, those classifications and distinctions mean very little, if anything at all. The gospel centered worldview espoused by Jesus (and furthered in Paul’s writings) simply refuses to treat one life as more valuable than another. When our culture asks, “Whose life matters more, the pregnant mother’s or the unborn child’s?” the gospel says, “both”. When the culture asks, “Whose life matters more, the citizen or the illegal alien?” the gospel says, “both”. When the culture asks, whose life matters more, the soldier or the terrorist? The criminal or the police officer? The rich person or the poor person?” The gospel says, “both”. And we, as purveyors of this worldview, should never forget that.