What It Means to Be Human

What does it mean to be human? In today’s society, we teach that being human means being ourselves and that of course, is rather vague and fuzzy and can be defined as just about anything. We can be whoever or whatever we want to be.

However, God has set clear laws in place that define for us what it means to be human. We can twist and distort our understanding of His laws, but we can’t rid ourselves of the law of humanness found even within ourselves, no matter how hard we try. Truth always exists. It may be hidden, ignored, snubbed, trampled upon, ridiculed, and pushed aside, but it cannot be destroyed. If we as human beings were able to destroy the truth, then we as the creature could destroy the Creator, the Author of truth. That simply is and never will be possible.

If we truly desire to be as human as we can possibly become, then serving, obeying, and worshipping our Creator is how we can do this. Christians should then be the most normal people on the planet, striving to be solely and utterly human. It is the essence of our existence. The Spirit breathed into man and woman both the breath of life. We are living on His breath, by His command, in accordance to His plan. Thus, human life has the greatest value and the greatest purpose of any creature on the planet.

(Yes, nature too is commanded to worship the Creator, but no book was written especially for the plants and animals on how to worship the Lord. Neither were plants and animals specifically commanded to name themselves or govern themselves. Nor are animals and plants spiritual beings made in the image of the Creator.)

Thus, every breath that we breathe should be an utterance of praise and thanksgiving to the Creator. Every thought that we think should be purposed to glorify the Creator. Every feeling that we feel should be our soaking in of the Creator. Our rationale and our emotions should be expressing and essentially mimicking the Creator’s, in a creaturely manner. The intents of our hearts and minds should be in submission to the Lord’s. This again is the essence of humanness.

Being human is not being one with nature or our fellow human beings. That simply leads into pantheism and humanism. Neither nature nor humanity is to be glorified. However, if we recognize and acknowledge that we must worship the Lord, then we will care for nature and honour our fellow human beings, since we have placed the Creator above us. He rules, while we are His subjects, tending and caring for the earth and for each other, following His bidding. Again, this is our essence. Truth triumphs falsehood. Beauty triumphs ugliness. Action triumphs apathy. Purpose triumphs hopelessness. Clarity triumphs obscurity.    

For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;

He is to be feared above all gods.

For all the gods of the peoples are idols,

But the Lord made the heavens.

Honor and majesty are before Him;

Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples,

Give to the Lord glory and strength.

Give to the Lord the glory due His name;

Bring an offering, and come into His courts.

Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!

Tremble before Him, all the earth.–Psalm 96:4-9 (NKJV)

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Divine Passibility: God as Sufferer

It may be safe to say that very few Christians today believe in divine impassibility. Most, in fact, believe that God does possesses emotions and can suffer and be grieved. However, in our understanding of this divine passibility, we often focus upon the fact that God suffers with us and grieves with us. We forget that God also grieves because of us.

No doubt we can be greatly comforted by the fact that God in all of His trascendence (He is outside of, beyond, and infinitely greater than us.) stoops down to love and care for us, to comfort us in our afflictions and pain. We can thus say that God is both transcedent and immanent (He is also present with us.). But sometimes, we focus so much upon God’s immanency seen within divine passibility, that we miss the fact that God in all of His purity, holiness, and majesty is far above and over us.

God is a pure and holy Lord. He wishes that we, His followers, servants, and friends, would serve Him wholeheartedly, with willing hearts and minds. He desires that we be in tune with Him and His workings of goodness, mercy, justice, and love. Hence, to say that God suffers with us–only–bypasses the point that God suffers because of us.

If more of us could recognise that God is grieved when we sin, when we do wrong, when we choose to disobey Him, then how much more would we seek to live lives that please and honour Him? The Christian life isn’t about me, easy grace, and a wishy-washy relationship with an all-loving, do-as-you-please Jesus. If that is so, then my life is quite selfish, bland, and basic.

Nor is it to be a life filled with continual condemnatin, guilt, and unhealthy fear in the sight of the almighty, all-powerful God. We cannot forever be tallying up our many sins. Neither should be our Christian disposition. Instead, we should recognise that when we do sin, if there is truly repetenance (a turning away from our wrongdoing, to run toward the righteousness of God), then the Lord in His mercy forgives us.

At the same time, due to our sinful natures rebelling against God’s perfectly good laws set in place, we know that we will experience consequences for our sin. That is only “natural”: It isn’t as if God is up there scheming or conjuring up some consequences for us (Although, Scriptures certainly speaks of God disciplines those He loves.). Consequences already exist in and of ourselves and are realised when we sin.

Yet the forgiveness, the grace, the mercy, and the goodness of our Lord overcomes, overwhelms, and moves us beyond our sinful actions. That is the beauty and wonder of our relationship with the triune God. He grieves with us when we sin, wants us to change and grow, and seeks to offer us a life of beauty, pleasure, and goodness found within Him. He extends His hand of love and compassion to us.

So yes, God certainly does feel our pain and cares for us, but as part of His immanency and hence, passibility, grieves when our pain is the result of our own willfulness. He desires that we be holy as He is holy. This is the essence of the Christian life and we (including me) would do well to remember it.