One of Seven Billion: Do You Really Matter?

Though much less than the present U.S. debt of trillions of dollars, seven billion is still a large number that is hard to get my head around. You have probably read or heard that this past week the population of the world topped the 7 billion mark. As only one of this huge horde, does any individual life really have significance?

All seven billion people hold a number of things in common as part of the human family. All are created in the image of God. This means that every person of the seven billion reflects in himself or herself attributes of God such as reason, creativity and love. Theologians call these and other qualities God’s communicable attributes–qualities of people which correspond to qualities in God (there are also incommunicable attributes–qualities which are true of God alone such as being eternal and self-existent). Though marred by sin, this image remains present in people and gives inherent value to every person, as well as enabling each one to reflect the character of God [See Genesis 1:26-27].

All are also recipients of God’s general revelation. God’s truth about himself in the creation is evident to everyone though some suppress that truth and reject the Lord of creation [See Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-23].

Finally, all experience the blessings of God’s common grace. In Matthew 5:45 Jesus says, Your Father causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. All people receive these gracious gifts from the hand of God.

However, beyond those things held in common by all human persons lie those things which begin to separate you from all other people. It is a combination of things which begin to narrow the field of people of whom these things are true until we arrive at you.

First is your temperament. Though many other people have the same temperament as you, this is not true of everyone. Your temperament identifies tendencies about your personality which determine how you will tend to be or act in various situations. This separates you from most other people.

Second there are your particular strengths and weaknesses. The collection of things you do very well and of things you do not do as well narrows further the number of people who are like you. The weaving together of your temperament with your strengths and weaknesses results in things which are unique to you. However, there are other areas which define these unique things even more.

Third there are your passions–those things about which you care deeply and to which you gladly give your time and energy. I remember a situation where an older woman in a church upbraided her pastors (of which I was one) in front of the rest of the congregation for their lack of emphasis on and commitment to missions. I do not believe she was being intentionally obnoxious; she was expressing her passion for missions. While one might question her tact, her passion was unquestionable. You can probably identify passions in your life. These add to your uniqueness.

Finally there are your spiritual gift or gifts. Every Christian has at least one spiritual gift–a grace-initiated, Spirit-empowered attribute or ability–that enables you to effectively be involved in Christ’s kingdom work in this world. Your gifts may be speaking gifts or serving gifts but each enables you to fulfill your kingdom assignment and so bring glory to Jesus [I Corinthians 12].

Your temperament, strengths and weaknesses, passion and spiritual gifts work together to make you one-of-a-kind, a unique human person in God’s world.

Though all this is true, there are other, deeper things that point to the fact that you are a unique individual. Consider these things:

Jesus knows you personally and calls you by name (John 10:4, 27)

He has planned a future and a hope for you (Jeremiah 29:11)

He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

This is the one thing above all else that makes your life matter in the midst of seven billion people–the Lord knows who you are. His knowledge and love of you as an individual person and His adopted child should bring you encouragement and joy. Your life matters!

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About Dr. John H. Harbison

Son of God, Husband, Father, Author of "Keeping Christ in Ministry,"Vice-President for Academic Affairs, College Pastor, Runner, Writer
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