The story is told of a philosophy lecturer who began the first lecture of the year with a new set of students by asking them a question. Holding up a brand new £20 note he asked who would like to receive it. Unsurprisingly every single one of the 200 students in the lecture theatre raised their hand in the air expectantly. He then took the banknote and carefully, and neatly folded it twice. Again he asked the question who would like to receive it. Again every hand went up. Next he unfolded the bank note and took it and scrunched it up into a ball. For the third time he held the £20 up to his audience and asked who would like to receive it. For the third time everyone indicated that they would like to be given the banknote. Finally the lecturer took the crumpled banknote and threw it on the floor. He then proceeded to stamp on the note. Again he held aloft the banknote covered with dust and grime and asked the students who wanted it. Still everyone in the room was eager to be given the £20 note.
Every eye was focused on the lecturer wondering what his next move would be. He then simply asked why they still wanted the bank note despite the mistreatment he had given it. One student spoke for them all by saying that it was still worth £20 even after all the things that had happened to it.
He then quietly said that this is just like people. We all have intrinsic value regardless of our history. It doesn’t matter what we have been through, the experiences good or bad don’t define our worth. Every human being is precious no matter how painful our lives have been.
Of course the reality is that many people have been through harrowing and damaging experiences that leave us feeling bruised and vulnerable. If we have been treated as worthless by others, or discarded by society we can start to believe that we have no dignity or self-respect. When we feel like this it is helpful to look and see what the bible teaches us about who we are. Thousands of years ago the King David wrote:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. (Ps 139:13–14)
Perhaps the Psalmist was inspired by the birth of a new born baby when he penned these words. In these two verse he recognises the creative work of God in every human being and concludes that each individual that God has made is amazing.
Perhaps at times you feel crumpled and scuffed like the bank note at the hand of the lecturer. If so allow God’s assessment if you to bring healing and dignity – You are amazing!
This blog post featured in the September 2016 edition of Hook Focus