What Does it Mean to be Human?
In my mind, the recently celebrated feast of Christmas couldn’t have focused the mind more when combined with the potent question of this series.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth (John 1:14)
When you try to think about humanity as a whole, you’d be forgiven for bursting your mind as you attempt to grasp just how complex, varied, frustrating and wonderful we as humans are. But I want you to do the complete opposite for the next 3 minutes.
I want you to consider only one human being.
At a particular moment in history and in the land of Israel, God himself became a man. Not an alien, not someone guising as a man, not a ghost that looked like a man, but a real man. He arrived through the messiness of the birth canal after being in utero for 9 months, he went through the process of being a wee newborn to becoming a toddler, then on to being a primary-aged child, and then through adolescence to manhood.
A proper bona fide human.
Nothing short of human.
That is really unbridled behaviour from the one and only God of the universe! Subjecting yourself to limitation, fragility, and finitude like that.
And it wasn’t just like Big Brother or I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, where you subject yourself to an already-agreed 12 weeks of mayhem, knowing that, at some point, the embarrassment and torment will all be over. This was upfront commitment to a fully lived life. Which is exactly what he lived.
Not Much of Looker
So we have a God-Man. He’s totally human; not in any way unlike you and me. And he continued to remain God.
And John, who I quoted above, not only got to meet this man, this human God, he got to live life around him. John describes this as having ‘seen his glory’. This God-Man was glorious – God on the one hand, human on the other. And understandably glorious in combination.
Then we realise from others that this man, this human, wasn’t like C-3PO from Star Wars – all shiny and gold. Nor was he like George Clooney entering a room in a sharp grey suit, well-groomed, and with a winning smirk.
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him… (Isaiah 53:2)
What John meant by glory didn’t amount to the pristine veneer of Hollywood. It was about who this man was, what he did, how he developed relationships, how he made people feel, how he broke evil social barriers, what he taught, how he taught, how he sacrificed himself, how he came back from death by brutal execution.
John and his pals witnessed this kind of glory.
In 2018, I want you to ponder just one human.
In following him in Scotland today, by attaching yourself to his very humanity, by resolving to prioritise no other philosophy of what it means to be human, by being convinced that this one human being has oozed glory from his every pore, you will discover yourself. You will finally come to terms with what your existence is for and what your purpose should be.
He is the one human who can show us what glory is.
He’s the only one who shows us what Being Human is all about.
His name is Jesus. He is from Nazareth.
Our first guest contributor of this new blog series is Stuart Weir. Stuart works as the National Director of CARE for Scotland, trying to inspire and activate the Scottish Church to deepen their involvement in society and politics with the kingdom of God at heart. He’s a family man, a rugby nut and a lover of spy novels. Find out more about his work at www.care.org.uk/scotland