By Dr. JR Miller
A few months back, my mother-in-law finally replaced a TV she had used for close to thirty years. Believe it or not, the built-in VCR still worked … but who has tapes anymore? Still, that TV was built to last. Wow! I’m lucky if my cell phone works after five years. Now, sadly, there is a reason my stuff will never last that long. Things don’t last that long anymore because most everything we buy is built to break.
Have you ever noticed how stuff falls apart just a month after the warranty expires? That is not an accident; that is obsolescence by design. Companies use plastic parts that are scientifically tested to last just beyond the warranty. Why? Because, long ago, companies recognized that they could increase profits if they simply built products to break more frequently. Why sell one widget that lasts ten years when you can sell ten widgets that last one? And, while this is terrible for the environment and the consumer, it is not the worst example of how we build obsolescence into our world.
Slavery (which is alive and well) treats humans like property … if the “owner” wears out the slave through abuse, they can always trade the old slave in for a newer model.
Abortion treats babies like commodities … if the child is deemed a financial burden, the woman can dispose of the fetus like she would last year’s fashion.
Euthanasia treats the elderly and sick like technology … sure, they still function, but caring for them is considered a waste of resources better invested in a newer and more functional upgrade.
Marriage is treated as a contract of convenience … try it for 30 days, and if you are not satisfied, just return your spouse for a different one.
Friendship is treated like a media entertainment service … when our good old friend Netflix no longer gives us what we like to see and hear, we cancel our subscription and move onto the next service provider.
In a throw-away society, humans—like our TVs, washing machines, clothing, and technology—are reduced to just one more disposable commodity; when people are no longer useful, we simply junk them for an upgrade.
But this is not how we, as Christians, should view humanity. God did not create humans to go obsolete.
First, for God, humans are not commodities to be traded in or discarded. The Bible opens with this powerful truth that every human person is sacred:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26–28, ESV)
Every person bears the image of God. Every person has value that goes beyond their perceived economic and environmental impact.
Second, for God, humans never expire. God’s warranty on every human is made for eternity. Even as we age, grow sick, and pass from this life, we are still valued by God. And the best news of all is that through the cross of Jesus Christ, every person will get a refurbished body that will endure forever. Paul encourages the church with this promised future:
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, ESV)
Finally, for God, you were built to last, not built for obsolesce. Don’t throw away your life, or the life of another person. The Apostle John records the words of Jesus on just how valuable you are to God:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16–17, ESV).”
Trust in God, your maker. Take advantage of the warranty offered by Jesus Christ, and live with hope for a better life ahead.
About the Author: Dr. JR Miller is a member of CFBU's Academic Advisory Council and the co-founder of the Center for Cultural Apologetics.