Years ago, a friend told me a story that changed my understanding and perspective about our identity in God. I pass this true story on to you in hope that you may find it equally enjoyable and even enlightening.
On a sunny day in 1967, a woman went for a walk near her home in Pasadena, CA. She then stumbled upon a violin case on the side of the road. Not being a violin player herself, she decided to offer the violin as a gift to her nephew.
He accepted the gift, though he had no intention of playing. The violin then sat silently in the closet as this boy became a man, as that man met a woman, as that man fell in love with said woman, and as that woman became that man’s wife.
All in all it was twenty-seven years later when this wife, Teresa Salvato, decided that she would learn to play the violin. So, Teresa took out the violin her husband’s aunt found and began to learn.
If we were to have asked Teresa what the value of this violin was, she would have said that she did not know, for she did not know where the violin came from— its identity and maker were a mystery.
So, in hopes to have the violin tuned up, Teresa took it to a music shop. The shop owners, knowing a bit about violins, recognized that this was no ordinary instrument. After doing some inquiries they discovered that this violin had a name. The name of the violin was the Duke of Alcantara.
The Duke of Alcantara is a special name for a person, let alone for the name of a violin. The violin was named after its first owner— a man who had the instrument hand-crafted over 270 years ago by none other than Stradivarius. With this information the shop owners told Teresa that her Stradivarius was worth nearly one million dollars.
This ought to make you wonder, how did a million dollar instrument end up on the side of the road in Pasadena? And here’s how…
The violin belonged to the music department at University of California LA and was loaned to the second chair violinist to be used in a special concert. Now, have you ever set something on top of the car, climbed in, forget it was there, and drove off? Well, that’s what he did!
Stradivarius violins remind us that some things are precious and should be treated with care and dignity. But, what is the difference between the Stradivarius and a generic violin? What makes something so greatly valued?
We know the value of a violin like this because we know its identity, and we know its identity based on its origin. So, could it also be true that our worth as human beings is tied to our identity? And is not our identity only truly understood if we know our origin?
If, like the Duke of Alcantara, our identity, our origin, and our maker are forgotten, then how would we understand the value for human life? Things are valuable because of their maker and if life is only the product of a cosmic accident (blind evolution), then humans have no more value than rocks or worms.
If society loses touch with our maker, we will undoubtedly forget the value of our neighbors, our unborn, our mentally challenged, our disabled, and our elderly. Unfortunately, the world has begun to see human life as nothing more than a generic violin—worth only the value they assign it.
As Christians who know our true identity, and the true identity of others, we must treat every human being with the value they were endowed with from their creator. Let us reflect the truth that even the most lowly and broken life has far more value than all of the stringed instruments in the world.