My husband and I like to watch the show "American Pickers" together. Two men from Eastern Iowa travel all over the U.S. looking for "treasure" in people's old sheds and attics. It's fun to see what they can uncover that has some value. What looks like old junk to me, they rescue and sell for decent money.
In a recent conversation with my worship team, we were talking about the concept of salvation. Jesus brought salvation wherever he went, because he was in the business of restoring people to wholeness. That is one of the meanings of the term. He restores people's health. He restores healed lepers to the community. Jesus restores people's souls with his forgiveness.
One of my team members observed that restoration, when applied to antiques, is often more costly than buying something new. What a good analogy for the way God saves us! God doesn't throw us away because we disappoint Him. He doesn't give up on us because we are broken and it would be cheaper to start over. God pays the price, no matter how costly, to restore us.
That runs counter to our society, which is accustomed to using things and then discarding them. Many of the gadgets we use couldn't be repaired even if we wanted to. We have to return to some former ways of appreciating the endurance and usefulness of well-made materials.
Yet I recently heard a speaker say that we don't give people the same consideration. Because our society has become so mobile, and many businesses must serve the bottom line above all else, we end up valuing people only for their use to us. Employees don't plan to stay with a company for their entire career, so their employers get as much out of them as they can, while they can. If we aren't careful, we might treat people the same way in our relationships - useful only insofar as they have something to offer us.
Jesus Christ came to show us a different way. He brought a fresh message of the love of God, and every act and word in his ministry expressed that love. It is a love that lifts up the fallen, brings good news to the poor, and sets people free from their bondage to those who would use them and then cast them off. Jesus says that is his purpose in Luke 4:18-21.
Paul affirms the same love in his letter to the Corinthian church. He says that those we might consider weak or insignificant are those we give the most honor (1 Corinthians 12:22-23). There is no ranking system among God's people; all are worthy of respect and love. In God's economy, nobody is unimportant.
It is wonderful to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, to let God's deep love flow through us to every person. No abilities or disabilities, wealth or poverty, skin color, occupation, social skills or lack thereof makes any difference to God. So they shouldn't make any difference to God's people either. Every one of us is broken in our sin, but God pulls us out of the sad heap of junk where we find ourselves and declares us beloved.
May God give us eyes to see that we are all in a sorry state, but God cleans us up, makes us shiny and new, and declares us priceless.