Is humanity worthless?

"You do not belong to yourselves, because you were bought with a price; therefore, honor God with your body."
I Cor. 16: 19b - 20.

I grew up in the church and I can't tell you how many times I have heard that people are worthless in comparison to God. Maybe that is true to a certain extent. In comparison to God's holiness we are not holy, that's for sure. In comparison to God, human beings are nothing. Were we there when God created the world? Do we have control over the tides and the phases of the moon? But, because of our sinful nature, humans have great potential to commit evil acts should we let the sinful nature go unchecked.

What I don't like, however, is when we refer to humans as worthless without the above qualification. Human beings are not worthless. Scripture says that we were "bought at a price." Would anyone in his or her right mind go out and purchase something that was worthless? Every object we buy at the store has some worth to the buyer, otherwise we would not purchase it. For example, I might go to the store and purchase a piece of costume jewelry. The jewelry itself does not have much worth, but I am glad that I bought it, especially if it goes with the clothing with which I wanted to wear the jewelry.

Did Jesus think we were worthless when he hung on the cross in sheer agony?

As I have thought about this, I realized that there is a big difference between recognizing that I have a sinful nature and in seeing myself as worthless. The word worthless is very strong and it is no wonder many Christian people suffer from self-esteem issues. There are several parables in the gospels that illustrate the way God feels about humanity. Luke 15 has several: the lost sheep (verses 1 -7); the woman who lost a coin (vv. 8 - 10) and the parable of the Lost Son (vv. 11 - 32). All of these parables illustrate how God looks for us when we are lost and I'm sure he still pursues us like this once we are found. Does that sound like we are worthless?

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only (or only begotten) Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3: 16 - 17 (NIV).