...the more I like my dog."
I used to have one of those pin buttons with this phrase on it. I don't know if I really felt like that at the time or if I just thought it was funny. When I realized its deeper meaning I threw it away. This was a very long time ago... and before I became a Christian.
After I started following Christ and was in a fellowship of Christians I had a renewed love for people in general. Those in the fellowship were like dear brothers and dear sisters. Those outside were people we would love to welcome into our fellowship and really hoped they would join.
It took me a number of years to begin to have my faith in people eroded. And I admit... even now I find it really easy to get discouraged with people in general. Myself included.
I have written quite a bit in The Koffi House about how we view people. In fact, if you click on the label "View of People" you will get all the posts I have tagged with that description. One of the best posts regarding this topic is The Arrogance of Agape Love. It describes the difference between loving people as doing something good for them and loving people as viewing them as someone valuable.
This morning I was thinking about monks in Burma that set themselves on fire to make a political protest. I thought about other non-Western people basically throwing their lives away to make some kind of point in protest. I thought to myself, "They don't value their lives as much as we do in the West." This immediately led me to think of the verse in Revelation 12:11 that describes those who died because of their witness of Christ and their refusal to deny him even in the face of death. It says, "they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."
You see, it's not that these Christian martyrs (or even those burning Buddhist monks) didn't value their lives. It's just that they valued something more--something greater than themselves. If I would have used my own wording to described these people do you know what word I would have chosen? I would have said, "They didn't value their lives so much..."
That's when it hit me. Value equals love. Love equals value. If we love someone we value them. Just like the martyrs in Revelation 12 didn't love their lives so much it means that they loved Christ even more. They valued Christ more than their own physical lives.
You can't separate value from love. You can't claim to love someone whom you don't value as a person or a child of God. This requires we change how we view people. This requires a change in our values.