Two nights ago, a device weighing nearly a ton hurtling toward the planet Mars at 13,000 miles per hour slowed and dropped, landing on a spot in the solar system that no human hand has ever touched. It’s journey was meticulously planned and designed, but its accomplishments are still unknown, its discoveries awaiting analysis. It’s called “Curiosity” and it will add to the totality of human knowledge. Reactions to that knowledge will help us understand what it means to be human. The journey of every mind seeks to arrive at an answer to that question: what does it mean to be human? Who or what we are as human beings is a crucial question and there are many paths that journey can take.
Are we valuable because of our capacity for reason, our ability to express a wide range of emotions, our ability to relate and to love, or is it because we are made in the image of God? What according to Christianity does it mean to be a human being?
Rather than beginning with a general anthropology of human uniqueness, we must first and foremost recognize that God became one of us in Jesus Christ. What makes us unique is that God did not, for example, become a penguin. God chose to become a particular human being in Palestine 2,000 years ago. Thus, being human means, in part, that we must recognize that our lives are constituted by God’s refusal to let us destroy ourselves. We are able to do that through the recognition of our own vulnerability — vulnerability being the admission that God came to do something that we could not do for ourselves. It’s a recognition that God’s “yes” defeats our “no.” Our “no” is a rejection of God’s claim on us as creator, a rejection that produces alienation and isolation, even from ourselves. In Jesus Christ, God unmasks and defeats our “no” and signals that we are not our own. We are not the accidental collocation of atoms. We are here by the decided will of a creator who pursued us to the point of becoming one of us and from whose love we cannot finally flee.
The times when I have felt most human — that is fully alive — have been the moments, though few and far between, when I have been able to be real, authentic, and vulnerable both with God and with others. I, like many others, have often felt the strangle-hold of the world tighten around my neck. The pressure to be someone and to live up to certain expectations weighs down upon us and we often wish we that we could, like Curiosity, escape to another planet far away from any form of human life. Yet in our sin, God did not abandon us. He did not leave us to figure our mess out on our own. Rather this God-man, this Jesus, this God-with-flesh-on came to earth and modeled for us the importance of sincere, life-giving, faith-building community. What makes us human is God’s unique pursuit of us. What makes us Christian is our recognition of need: the need for Christ and in turn for one another.
My hope is that Kingdom Culture can be a place where this kind of life-giving, faith-building community can be found. My prayer is that Kingdom Culture would facilitate in each of us…
Impassioned curiosity. Unbridled vulnerability. Abounding humanity.