- Understand people are made in the image of God.
- Understand all people have value because they are made in the image of God and Jesus died for them.
- Understand if God loves us enough to send His son to die for us, then we should also love mankind.
As a large group discuss:
- What are the beliefs in your culture about where humans have come from?
- What are the consequences of these beliefs? If a person believes these things, would they think that people are very important or not?
In India, there was a woman, Mother Teresa, who set up homes to care for people who were dying on the streets so that they might die with dignity. Many people criticized her, saying that there were already too many people in India so why did she help those who were dying already. What do you think? Was this a worthwhile ministry or not?
Made in the Image of God
Discuss as small groups. Go through each selection of verses, one at a time.
Read Genesis 1:26-27
- How are people different from the rest of creation? What did God use as His model for humans?
- What are some of the characteristics of God that can be found in man? Identify as many as possible.
Read Psalm 139:13-16
- What does this verse tell us about the importance of humans?
- Do you think that this verse only applies to some people or all people?
Explain – God designed us, we are carefully made, and He has written all the days of our lives in a book. We did not just happen, but God made each person.
Large Group Discussion
- What did God do to restore the world?
- Did God die for us because we were good? (If they are unsure look at Romans 5:8.)
- If God was willing to send His son to die for people, then how important does He think people are?
- What does this mean for the way that we treat people?
In these verses, we can see that God obviously thinks people are very important. He made us in His image—each of us are carefully created and knitted together in our mother’s womb. He cares so much for people that He sent His son to die for them.
Think again about Mother Teresa’s work in India. Can these ideas help us to understand her work better? Why do you think that she would care for dying people?
When a famous reporter once asked her why she cared for them, she quoted from Matthew 25:31-46—the story of the sheep and the goats. In this passage, Jesus condemns those on His left saying, “when I was hungry you did not feed me, when I was thirsty you did not give me drink.” When they replied they had never seen Jesus hungry or thirsty, He said “whatever you did not do for the least of these people you did not do for me.” Mother Teresa explained that serving the people who are dying on the streets of India was the same as serving Jesus.
Think about this. Each one of us is very valuable to God. So is every person in your community. Take time to think quietly whether you treat the people in your community as if they are precious to God.
Case Study: The Early Church
Read the following case study.
The Christians in the early church understood that people are important. At that time, the people believed that the gods fought each other for superiority and demanded humans make sacrifices to avoid punishment of the gods. The Christians understood that the true God was different. He had sacrificed for humans, sending His only beloved son to die for them (John 3:16). This belief meant that every single human was of great importance and value. This understanding of God’s incredible love for His world and mankind led the early church to oppose common practices such as abortion and infanticide. At that time, if a baby girl was born, it would often be discarded in the streets. However, the Christians understood that every life—handicapped, unborn, male or female, slave or nobleman—was extremely valuable to God. They would rescue female babies from the streets and raise them as if they were their own.
The early church also believed that since God demonstrated His love by sacrificing His life on our behalf, then it was their duty to sacrificially serve others as well. The followers of Jesus understood they were to be compassionate and merciful to all people in the same way God was compassionate and merciful to them.
During that time, a cholera epidemic broke out. If you give water to someone with cholera , the chance they will survive is reasonably high. Without water, they will die. However, cholera is extremely contagious. Because the Romans feared getting the illness, as soon as they saw a person had the disease, they would throw them out into the streets to die rather than giving them water. Human life was not important to them. The Christians, however, were different. In fact, they would go to those that had cholera and bring them water and nurse them. They believed in sacrificial service and mercy. Many died, but through their love, the number of Christians grew very rapidly.
Take time to think about this story quietly to yourself.
Ask God to help you see how you treat others. Do you treat them as if God thinks they are so important that He would die for them? Do you only treat some people well and other people not so well? Ask God to forgive you where you have not treated people in a way that pleases Him. Ask Him to show you how He sees people.
In small groups discuss:
- Who are some of the people who are typically undervalued?
What are some ways that we can demonstrate to people that they are important to God?