I recently took a class through the RZIM Academy called What Does It Mean To Be Human? It was without doubt the best class I’ve ever taken anywhere, with the possible exception of Why Suffering, which was another class offered by the Academy.
Every class I’ve ever taken through the Academy has been exceedingly well done, but this last class was by far the best. I always learn a lot when I take these classes, but this time I learned a lot, and they made me think, probably more than in any other class.
One of the assignments we had to do was to come up with ten questions on what it means to be human. The variety of questions that people came up with was really cool.
I decided I’m going to post my questions here, and then try and come up with answers for each one.
So here goes…
- What is it about being human that makes man unique from all other creatures on earth?
- What is it about being human that gives man the capacity for spirituality?
- What is it about being human that gives man the desire to know and understand truth?
- What is it about being human that gives man the craving for beauty, and the ability to pursue perfection in the arts?
- What is it about being human that gives man the desire to know his origins, to know where he came from, deeper than just the details about sex?
- What is it about being human that gives man the hunger for morality, and the consequent ability to establish governments, and make rules and laws?
- What is it about being human that gives man the curiosity to pursue knowledge in the sciences and other fields of inquiry?
- What is it about being human that gives man the capacity to love sacrificially, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, to hate absolutely?
- What is it about being human that gives man the yearning to find meaning in his life?
- What is it about being human that makes people crave to know their destiny? In other words, what happens to us when we die?
So those were my ten questions. I don’t know how good they are, but I like them. The purpose of the assignment was to come up with questions that would make people think about what it means to be human, and to make them think more deeply about the things of the Spirit, and of God.
I want to start by answering the first question in this post, and then answer the questions one or two at a time in successive posts.
So, here I go with Question #1:
What is it about being human that makes man unique from all other creatures on earth?
I think the answer to that question lies more than anything in the idea, corroborated in Scripture, that human beings are created in the image of God. It says in the Book of Genesis,
And 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. ~ Genesis 1:26-27, ESV.
There are a lot of thoughts that run through my mind when I contemplate the idea that God, Master of the Universe, Creator of All Things, would create me in His image. That boggles my mind. As amazing and marvelous and wonderful and mysterious as God is, He created me in His image, and after His likeness.
Then I find myself wondering, what does it mean to be created in the image of someone? Is it about being created like that person, and if it is, like that person in what way? Since this is in reference to God, it can’t have anything to do with physical appearance, because God is Spirit.
Then Kim sent me some helpful ideas. God created us to reflect Him, kind of like a mirror, and He is, at the simplest level, Light, Life, and Love, so we were created to reflect God’s Light, God’s Life, and God’s Love, because those are God’s defining characteristics.
Something else Kim reminded me of: if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. Jesus Himself said that,
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father! So why are you asking Me to show Him to you?” ~ John 14:8-9, NLT.
First, God is light, as it says in 1 John,
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. ~ 1 John 1:5, NASB.
Then, God is love, also in 1 John,
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. ~ 1 John 4:8, NASB.
And also in 1 John,
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16, NKJV.
The idea that God is life is a little more difficult, because there isn’t a scripture that says plainly, God is life, as there are for the other two concepts. But inferences and deductions can be made, and conclusions can be drawn, so I’ll try and do exactly that.
Peter calls Jesus Christ the Author of Life in the Book of Acts. In order for someone to be the author of life, that person has to have life in himself, and Jesus Christ certainly had that, and still does in inexhaustible supply,
You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact! ~ Acts 3:15, NLT, NIV, ESV, and RSV.
And “Author of Life” is translated variously, “Prince of Life”, in the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASV, YLT, WEB, and HNV; “Source of Life” in the CSB; and “Originator of Life” in the NET and the DBY.
All of which means that God is Life because He is the source and originator of life. Plus Jesus said about Himself,
My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One. ~ John 10:29-30, ESV.
In addition, Jesus says to Martha, the sister of Lazarus who He raised from the dead, in John, Chapter 11,
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies… ~ John 11:25, NASB.
So Jesus says He is the resurrection and the life (resurrection and life used as nouns). He’s saying that He has life, and that He is life.
I don’t know how close I’ve come to answering the question, but at least I’ve made a stab at it. I’m sure there’s more I could say, and I may come back and add more later on.