I wanted to riff on something I’ve been thinking about lately: Your humanity is not the problem.
For a variety of reasons, many of us grew up with a narrative that said something like….
- Your humanness is the sinful part of you
- Your humanness is something to overcome
What a huge mistake this line of thinking is!
According to the message of the Bible, the human part of you is the whole you!
You may have been told your entire life that your humanity is bad, that your humanity is the problem; but the gospel says your humanity is your gift to the world. You were made to bear God’s image by becoming human like Jesus.
But what does this actually mean? And is it rooted in the Scriptures?
Let’s start with the Scriptures.
According to Genesis 1-2, God created humankind in the Divine image. Female and male, both image God to the world. This speaks to both your worth and intrinsic value as God’s pinnacle of creation and a particular vocation. The vocation—the role—of any human being is to reflect the love of God into the world through good stewardship. This breaks down into four relationships:
- You and God (God-awareness)
- You and Others (Others-oriented)
- You and the Earth (Creation-stewarding)
- You and You (Self-awareness / wholeness)
When these for relationships are in sync (Ok, for the few of you, get that 90s boy band outta your mind), you are part of an ecosystem of right relationships that the Bible calls “shalom.”
To bear God’s image—to be fully human—is to be part of God’s shalom-shaped design for the cosmos.
It is one of the greatest tragedies of Christianity that many of us start with the problem of “sin” (which, I often say is the disruption of the four relationships of shalom) when we think of our identity.
The gospel of Jesus, the long story arc we see in the Scriptures, proclaims that as a human being, your starting point is being part of a design that God called “very good.”
And yes, the disruption of shalom is part of the story. But it is not how it starts. It is not how it will end.
God cares about us, the human “us”, so much that God became a human us to show us how to become the fullest human us that we could be.
That fully human one looks like Jesus. Jesus shows us the prototype for who we are all destined to become. Fully alive. Fully awake to God.
So, if this is true (which, no wonder the New Testament constantly invites us to become more like Jesus the human), then what does it actually mean?
It means that if you are ever having a bad day, purge this phrase from your vocabulary: “I’m only human.”
You and I are not “only human” as though this is a negative aspect of our identity. We are not “only human” and therefore called to overcome our human limitations. Rather, You. Are. Human. And the message of Jesus is that you can become more human, not less, by growing in your capacity to know and follow Jesus wherever he may take you.
The goal of discipleship: to become human like Jesus.
The process of “sanctification” is about becoming human like Jesus.
Being human is good. Being human is your vocation. Being human is also your destiny. No wonder Jesus modeled the most human thing of all: resurrection.
The story of the Bible doesn’t end with us shedding our humanity. It’s climactic moment is when humankind will be raised with restored bodies for a restored world. Then, we will be free to be fully human forever in God’s good world.
Your humanity is not the problem. It is a central part of the remedy to the problem of sin and evil in our world. The more human like Jesus we become, the more potential for healing and hope that we can bring to others.
May you go be human, with Jesus, for the sake of this world.
PS: Check out this short film I was part of on this subject, in celebration of my new book: Echoing Hope—How the Humanity of Jesus Redeems our Pain.
Author: Kurt Willems
Kurt Willems is a pastor, author, and spiritual director. His first book, Echoing Hope: How the Humanity of Jesus Redeems our Pain, releases in March 2021. Kurt is also the host of the Theology Curator podcast. He has a master of divinity degree from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary and a master of arts in comparative religion from the University of Washington.
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