By Lacey Gustavsen
“Strippers aren’t people.” I couldn’t quite wrap my head around this statement as it came out of one of my friend’s mouth.
“Well, if they aren’t people, what are they? Aliens? Or maybe some kind of futuristic robot?”
Clearly, this wasn’t the intended message behind those words, and yet, it still struck me as absurd. How can one group of people be considered sub-human, simply because of their occupation? It also, however, showed a far more subtle, frightening underlying belief.
Something that is true of all human beings is that we are all created in the image of the Creator, God. We are filled with his breath, given his life, and his likeness. As such, we were created with limitless potential, to create and to bring glory to the One who made us in enjoying him. He also gave us the gift of choice, whether to glorify him, or to turn in pursuit of other things that we, in our finite wisdom thought would bring us greater joy in the long run.
In Eden, we fell and failed, falling short of the plans and purposes that God had for us. Yet God, in his infinite wisdom and love chose to make a way for us to come back to him, back to everything that he had in store for us originally. It is through the blood of his Son Jesus that we can stand before him, redeemed.
To redeem something means to “buy back”, or to obtain the release or restoration of something or someone. It is an essential quality of humanity that we can be redeemed. Not one person is beyond redemption. There is no special clause that states, “Well, you actually don’t qualify for redemption. Remember what you said to your brother yesterday? Unforgivable. How about what you did last night? That isn’t covered by the blood. You’re on your own for that one.” Jesus came to seek and to save what was lost.
That is why hearing someone say that strippers (or terrorists, or murderers for that matter) aren’t human bothers me. When we attempt to take away a person’s humanity, we are essentially stating that they are not worth as much as the lawyer, the doctor, or the student. We are putting them beyond redemption. Our culture says that our worth can be defined by what we do, our actions. We are valuable when we perform, when we give something worthwhile to society. By those standards, it makes sense why a stripper would be considered sub-human.
The church is called to be different, however. We are called to be the hands and feet of God in a broken and tired world. We are called to show his love in word and deed. We are to go to those that the world calls worthless, and whisper to them that they are valuable, worth more than they could ever imagine.
Because God does not define our worth by what we do, how many hoops we can jump through, or how big our bank account is, but by who we are. We are his children, his pride and joy. When he looks at us, he doesn’t see our faults and failures, our dirt and mess, but who we were meant to be. When we admit that we are broken beyond repair, and accept his path back home, through Jesus, we stand redeemed. God doesn’t see us anymore, but Jesus.
The next time that you encounter someone that this world considers as less than worthy, consider them through God’s eyes. Realize that in all of us, there is something of the one who made us. When you look into another person’s eyes, you are staring God in the face.
There is something that happens when we refuse to see a person as a label, an object, and start seeing them as precious and beautiful. It changes both the person who is searching for the worth in a person, and the person being searched.
When you believe that a person is valuable, and worthwhile, and begin to treat them as such, they begin to believe this about themselves. It is so much easier to get through life when you can see yourself through the eyes of God. Go out, and let someone know that they are loved beyond their wildest imaginings, and watch as their life becomes transformed. Once one realizes the love of the Father, their life cannot stay the same.
Lacey is a 19 year-old journalism student from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who loves to travel, and use her writing to share the love of God with others.