When my husband and I were in college, a professor in our Educational Psychology class taught us six words that we’ve never forgotten. We attended Biola University, a Christian school, and I still remember the professor telling our class that he would be teaching us six words — three two-word phrases — that sum up what the Bible teaches about people. Since then, Dave and I have remembered these six words and incorporated them into our teaching, our parenting, and our view of life. The six words are: Very Special, Deeply Fallen and Greatly Loved.
1) Very Special
People were made to know and love God. We were designed to have a relationship with God. The Bible teaches that people were created in the image of God.
In the Christian world view, people are of infinite worth and value. Our value comes not because of our skills and accomplishments, but because the God who made the universe created us in his image, and wired us to connect with him. We are valuable to God. We are very special.
2) Deeply Fallen
The Bible teaches that although people were created very special, and equipped by God to have a relationship with him, we are deeply fallen. Sin entered the world and taints all of us. We are no longer able to connect with God. We are broken people, living in a broken world among other broken people.
This makes sense in light of the world we see around us. When we look at the world around us, we see that people have an amazing capacity for good and for evil. We see heroic acts of self-sacrifice and horrific acts of destruction. Humans build civilizations and destroy civilizations. People were created very special, but are truly deeply fallen.
This also makes sense in light of our knowledge of our own hearts. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we are capable of cruelty, greed and pride. Our default setting is self-centeredness. This might be hard to admit to ourselves, because we are also very skilled at denial, but deep down we know that it’s true. We know that we are deeply fallen.
It’s as if we were a state-of-the-art cellphone, for example, designed to connect with signals and communicate freely and openly, with never a dropped call or a hint of static. But sin comes in the form of a bulldozer and completely crushes us. We can no longer communicate. Our previous capacities are destroyed. Some of us might look a little better on the surface, with fewer cracks, perhaps, but none of us retain our functionality. We can’t repair ourselves. We need whole new replacement parts. The Bible says that we need a new heart, a new life.
3) Greatly Loved
Although we are deeply fallen, according to the Bible, we are also greatly loved. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
This is the story of redemption that is the Bible’s central message: By coming to earth in the form of a man, by living a sinless life and dying a painful death, by rising from the dead and ascending to heaven, God has shown us his great love for us. He has provided a way for us to have the relationship with him that we were designed for. Jesus came to save us.
The message of Christianity is that you don’t have to find a way, broken person, to repair yourself. You don’t have to try harder, do more, perform better. You can’t earn your way into a relationship with God. You just stop and admit you are broken and receive God’s love and the new heart he offers through Jesus. What a beautiful message! What amazing grace!
This message of redemption makes sense to me when I observe people around me. As a therapist, every day I witness good coming out of the most painful and difficult circumstances. It seems like the hardest things in life are the very things that grow us the most. It makes sense to me that the Bible’s story of redemption is true, because I daily see small pieces of redemption, of good blossoming out of evil. I’ve seen people’s hearts changed by God’s grace. And I’ve experienced the transforming power of being loved in my own life.
So there you have it — six words that beautifully summarize the Bible’s view of humanity: Very Special, Deeply Fallen, and Greatly Loved.
Question: What do you think? Do these six words ring true for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.