What Does It Mean to Be Human?
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Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness...” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.—Genesis 1:26–271
You are a letter from Christ … written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.—2 Corinthians 3:3
The Christian story presents Christ as the truly human Son of God in whom and for whom all creation was made. Stepping into creation, Christ has come to restore the image of true humanity, drying the tears of a broken world, reviving the image of God within us, overcoming the enemies of sin and death.
In the company of [philosophers] Pascal and Solzhenitsyn, I find Christ to provide the only grounding that offers hope for the contradictions within us. Far more than a hope merely for the future or an escape vehicle from present reality, Christ redeems the tension within us, the tension between my identity as a child of God and a daughter of humanity. We are assured that the promise is ours: “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.” For Christ is not only at work redeeming a fallen humanity, resuscitating our nature with his own, standing as the mediator who lifts us to God; Christ came to unite humanity with God so that we can be truly human as He is human.—Jill Carattini
While God created us along with all other things, He made us different from all other created things by making us in His image. He created us as unique beings and intimately breathed life into us.
He made us personal beings, able to enter a relationship with Him and other humans. He made us a combined physical and spiritual being by giving us body and spirit. And even though all humans have sinned against Him, He loves us so much that He made a way for humanity to become reconciled with Him through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.
God loves His image-bearing creatures, and He values us. Because God values human beings, each has intrinsic, essential value. This should cause us to value each human being. All humans, no matter what their gender, race, skin tone, or creed, are created equal. Each person bears God’s image and should be respected and treated as such. Neither one’s place nor one’s value in society diminishes a person’s intrinsic value.
Newborns, children, the elderly, the infirm, the disabled, the unborn, the hungry, widows, and prisoners, those you disagree with, even enemies—every human being, no matter what their condition, circumstance, or religious belief—has the dignity of being God’s image bearer, and deserves—and should be granted—equal honor and respect by all other human beings. Seeing others as God’s image bearers should rid us of racial, religious, and all other prejudices. It should cause us, as individuals, to view and treat others with respect, regardless of our differences.
It should also cause us to look at ourselves with respect and dignity. To realize that God loves and values us should help us to value ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. It should cause us to view ourselves positively, to take care of ourselves physically, to nurture our spirits with positive and godly input. It should remind us of the sanctity of our own lives, thus keeping us from harming ourselves in any way. We should recognize that despite any personal weaknesses or failures, how we may perceive our own worth, how we view our physical appearance or our education or mental abilities, we are valued by God and thus should value ourselves.
Realizing that God values human beings, that He loves and cares for us, should cause us to value humanity, to recognize the worth of every person, ourselves included, and to do what we can to live in harmony and peace with others.—Peter Amsterdam
If a computer could be programmed so thoroughly with the strategies involved in chess that it could defeat our brightest champion, would we then say that this computer is more human than the world’s greatest chess player? Not likely, for to do so would reduce intelligence to computational efficiency, memory, and physical components.
Personhood, according to the Christian understanding, cannot be reduced to form or function. Indeed, our identity is sacred by definition, for we have been created by God to bear God’s image. We have been endowed with a moral nature, with the capacity to give love and to understand goodness. A child, then, does not find her worth in physical beauty or mental prowess, but in reflecting the beauty of her creator. There is a transcendent value to being human, rooted in the very being of God.
As we wade our way through the morass of bio-ethics, we must not look at the face and IQ of a human, but instead, to the face and mind of God. Only then can we truly understand what it means to be human.—Ravi Zacharias
God sent His Son
There have been many startling and significant moments in recorded history. In more recent history, for example, certain events stand out like the Reformation, the first heart transplant in 1967, or the first steps by man on the moon (1969). These are just three events that came to my mind among the scores of others that are studied in history.
But most important of all and from which all of these derive their date is one found in Galatians 4:4: “When the right time came, God sent forth his Son.” The Bible teaches that time and eternity collided when the God-man came among us, born of a virgin. The creator of time and Lord of eternity became a human being. Humanity and divinity collided (they did not become identical), and history would never be the same again!—Michael Suderman
Conceived in personhood
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.—Psalm 139:13–16
Created for righteousness
The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.—Proverbs 4:182
This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.—Martin Luther
Published on Anchor April 2015. Read by Debra Lee.
1 The Bible scriptures in this post are from the New International Version (NIV), unless indicated otherwise.