As the world marks the 75th anniversary (10 December) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, SAT-7’s Ministry Content Advisor George Makeen questions the reality of the equality of all people and calls on the Church to stand for this core biblical principle.
“All men are created equal.” The second sentence of the United States Declaration of Independence affirms this statement to be “self-evident” truth. Almost two hundred years later, and after the horrors of two world wars, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes “the inherent dignity and… equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. These, according to the Declaration, are the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.
But is it true that humans are equal in dignity and value? Is this a self-evident truth that cannot be questioned or doubted?
For most of human history, we have ranked each other and believed that some people are far more important than others. We believed that there are slaves and free people and argued for the superiority of certain races over others. Equality has never been a self-evident truth; it required humans to fight to make it so, and to fight even more to protect the myth we had created.
As an Arab, I was raised and have lived in a region where people are not considered equal. Our own governments always made it clear that the lives and dignity of those belonging to “the first world” were far more important than those of local people. But somehow, we believed that this was the fault of our tyrant regimes, that the free world really stood for equality and equal care for each human life.
But as Christian, I believe that we live in a fallen world that needs God’s redemption to fulfil His original purpose to establish peace and human dignity. In the Old Testament, God argued with His people to make them understand that He is the God of all, that He does not favour them exclusively but rather chose them to bless nations.
God states this principle in several Old Testament books. For example, through Amos He declares, “Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites? Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?” (Amos 9:7). In these powerful and shocking words, the Lord compares his own people to those usually regarded as of lesser value, and He even compares the exodus from Egypt with the similar experiences of their enemies, thus declaring that He Himself is behind the existence of these nations.
In Christ, God confirms that He “does not show favouritism” (Romans 2:11). Christ came to fulfil God’s good pleasure to reconcile the whole universe in Him. And according to God’s plan, He chose us, Christian believers, to be the heirs of redemption (Ephesians 1:3-14).
Christians assert that human rights are established on biblical foundations. But for non-believers, this assertion is a myth unproven by valid historical evidence. Human equality and dignity, based on humans’ creation in the image of God, is a matter of faith that requires believers to stand and live for it if others are to believe in the Good News we are given to share.
I have always rejoiced to belong to the faith that declares the unbelievable: that all of us, every single human being, is equally dear and important to God. In the Middle East and North Africa, where there is so much hopelessness, this is the Gospel, the Good News, that we Christians have believed and declared.
We are living in hard times: human dignity and value are being called into question by technological development, anti-human philosophies, human conflicts, and climate challenges. In such times, the Church is called to stand for what it believes, to show that it has a voice and influence as God’s steward on the earth. Otherwise it risks turning the Gospel into a mere myth.
In SAT-7, we believe that our work makes God’s love visible, that we are giving the Church an opportunity to witness for the Gospel. When we stand against everything that separates people or makes them fear one another, when we proclaim without hesitation that it is God’s good purpose and will for all humans to live equal and free, we are standing for the core meaning of the Gospel: that God loved each and every one of us equally and unconditionally, to the point of giving His own Son to die and reconcile us to Him. The church in the region needs that freedom in order to witness and thrive, and as we present content that promotes it, we stand for the future of the Church in the MENA.
Would you please pause and pray for the following:
- for a move of God that would lead to greater equality and dignity for all people in the region
- for SAT-7 to be a powerful voice of change towards this reality