“We know the price of everything and the value of nothing”…
I was reminded of that phrase by an article in a recent edition of Classic Car Weekly about a 1939 Mercedes Benz 770K Grosser Offener Tourenwagen (which I’m guessing means big car) which is to be auctioned in America. The model is reckoned as one of the motor industry’s greatest automotive achievements in design, engineering and construction. No estimate is given as to how much the car will make, however the expectation is that it will make more than other 770Ks. Why is that? Might it be to do with ownership?
Well, a thirties Mercedes, a big one at that, armour plated with bullet proof glass; correct, its first owner was Hitler. The car debuted delivering him to the Old Reich Chancellery in Berlin in 1939 and then in victory parades in France, Yugoslavia and Greece. The auction house has said that 10% of the sale proceeds will be donated to education about the Holocaust, but the car raises a very interesting question about the relationship between value, price and worth.
The value of a Merc 770K is considerable, but the price of this one will almost certainly be more; whilst the worth? The auction house has said that a car cannot choose its owner, but this car is nonetheless inextricably linked with the evils of Nazism so to give it “worth” is questionable. Many wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole; might we even say its “worth” is zilch?
The relationship between value, price and worth is something we live with daily and we apply it to everything we do including other people. The phrase “quality people” makes me shudder because it implies such a damning judgement upon others, whoever those others happen to be. This is not about excusing wrong doing, not at all; and certainly not excusing the wrongs of those like Hitler, but day by day for us all, thinking about how we view others and how we judge accordingly is an important exercise.
The Gospel of Christ meets head on the question of value, price and worth. All are valuable as created beings in the sight of God; all are worth the effort of relationship with Christ and Christ paid the ultimate price to demonstrate this. Christ faced head on the consequence of our “values” because actually we do judge a book by its cover. A lot.
As Easter approaches, we are confronted by Christ’s valuing of us all; for Christ rose again and every Primary school child I have ever asked knows Jesus did not come back to “zap” those who nailed him up. Jesus’ absolute valuing of us all is amply shown by the invitation to follow him in his risen life because we are worth it. Easter chocolate is yummy and Easter bunnies are cute, but neither help with the question “how much am I worth?”. The Gospel of Christ replies You are worth everything.