human life

The Immense Value of Every Human Life

14 December 2023

3.3 MINS

It is only thanks to Jesus’ influence on Western values that we understand the immense value of every human life today.

The following is an excerpt from Kurt Mahlburg and Warwick Marsh’s latest book, Jesus: The Centre of It All. Buy the book here.

The Story of Yohanes

The sickly little boy was too young to understand what was happening to him. Unmarried and confused, his parents had rejected him, refusing to take responsibility for this precious little life. Now the child’s grandmother was holding the boy, waiting in queue at a remote jungle clinic, unsure what would happen next.

Health workers examined the child, taking his temperature, listening to his heart and lungs. They spoke with the elderly woman, trying to discern what ailed him. Their diagnosis: pneumonia and diarrhoea, conditions sadly worsened by the boy’s malnutrition. But more heart-breaking still was what they learned about his story. The child did not have a name. Locals had simply designated him buang jiwa—‘throwaway soul’.

On returning home to her village, the grandmother looked for other relatives who could take care of buang jiwa. She was old, frail and poor. Surely someone else would be better suited? But no one was willing. Eventually, she took him to a village further away.

Word of the boy’s situation eventually made its way back to the medical clinic. Afraid he would die, the staff admitted him to their children’s program, giving him carers, a roof over his head and food in his belly. They also gave buang jiwa a new name: Yohanes— which means ‘gift of God’.

Jesus and the Value of a Human Life

The account of Yohanes is a true story, one that I saw unfold up close at a ministry where I have served in South East Asia. It will always stay with me as a powerful reminder of the immense value of every human life.

There is no one who demonstrated the value of human life more than Jesus Christ. What Jesus taught about our worth as individuals, how He loved the people He met, and the way He laid down His life for us has had a profound impact on the world, all the way up to our present time.

In this chapter, we step out of the pages of Scripture and into the annals of history to explore some of the incredible ways Jesus has continued to shine as the light of the world through the ages.

How Jesus Influenced Universal Education

In almost every place on earth and throughout time, education has been a luxury for the elite—until followers of Jesus saw otherwise.

In the Middle Ages, Europe’s monasteries and cathedral schools offered monks a sanctuary for prayer, reflection and purity—but they also became great centres of learning, ultimately developing into the modern university. It was also thanks to monks that the writings of ancient Greece, Rome and the Church Fathers were preserved. Studying these classic works of literature, monks began a movement called Scholasticism, which used logic to study God and laid the intellectual foundations for the modern world.

The Reformers built on the work of the Scholastics. Convinced that truth did not just belong to church leaders, Martin Luther and his contemporaries wanted everyone to learn about Jesus for themselves. As English reformer William Tyndale vowed, “I will cause a boy who drives a plough to know more of the Scriptures than the Pope.” Tyndale translated the Bible into English, John Calvin translated it into French, and Luther, into German. Their vision was to liberate the Word of God from Latin—which only priests knew—and make it available to the masses in their heart languages. According to Christian historian Vishal Mangalwadi, within generations, alehouses and taverns across Europe became debating societies as people began to question “every tradition of the church and every decision of the king.”

The Opening of the Western Mind

A Bible you can understand is only useful if you can read. So, the other goal of the reformers was mass literacy.

Aided by the recent invention of Gutenberg’s printing press, the reformers unleashed a bottom-up intellectual awakening that spread throughout Europe. Missionaries continued this project as they took the good news about Jesus into the unknown world. In translating Scripture, missionaries ended up systematising languages which went on to shape national identities and birth nations: the languages of Hindi, Urdu and Bengali, for instance, ultimately gave rise to the nations of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively. Thousands of indigenous dialects have been saved from extinction by Christians who set out to tell the world about Jesus but ended up democratising language and education as well.

It is also no coincidence that the world’s early centres of education—prestigious schools like Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, Harvard, Yale and too many others to list—were established to teach the Bible and train preachers. Today, followers of Jesus continue this rich heritage through their disproportionate involvement in education worldwide.

Buy Jesus: The Centre of It All here.


Image via Unsplash.

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