Ethics,  Theology

Exploring the Depths of Humanity: What Does It Mean to be Human?

The question of what it truly means to be human has captivated minds and stirred philosophical debates throughout the ages. Recently, I was asked to articulate my thoughts on this profound inquiry, and in doing so, I turn to the Bible—the ultimate source for unraveling the intricate facets of human existence. In this article, we will explore the depths of humanity through the lens of scripture, shedding light on our creation, our flawed nature, God’s boundless love, and our eternal destiny.

Being human means being a creature made in the image of God.

According to Genesis 1:26-28, we discover that being human signifies being a creation fashioned in the likeness of our Creator. As creatures, we are obligated to follow and obey the One who brought us into existence. Morality and ethics find their foundation in the Creator Himself, God designing the world to operate according to His plan and purpose. No creature can claim autonomy. We are all bound by the Creator-creature tie.

It is worth emphasizing the fact that human beings are accorded honor that is unparalleled in creation—human beings are made in the image of God. As such, mankind is given direct authority on behalf of God to function as caretaker and guardian of the rest of creation (Gen 1:26; Cf. Ps 8). Being made in the image of God is a unique privilege which separates human beings from animals and every other part of creation. This is why each and every human being is sacred. Theologians have called this idea the “sanctity of human life.” Each life has value. This is why murder on any level is wrong. This is also why any mistreatment of a fellow human being is wrong (Matt 5:21-22).

Being human means acknowledging our sinful nature.

Although originally created without sin, our earliest ancestors, Adam and Eve, succumbed to disobedience in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Through their transgression, sin entered the world, tainting humanity’s nature and separating us from our perfect communion with God. Romans 3:23 and Romans 5:12 further affirm that we are all born into this fallen state, devoid of inherent goodness. Recognizing our inclination towards sin allows us to seek redemption and restoration. There will come a time, for those who have put their faith in Christ, when our humanity will be unshackled from the presence of sin. But for the time being, being a human means acknowledging the deleterious effects of sin in our humanity.

Being human means being recipients of God’s extraordinary love.

Despite our sinful state, the Bible reveals that God loves us with an unparalleled depth of affection. John 3:16 beautifully portrays this divine love by depicting God’s sacrificial gift of His Son, Jesus, even while we were still estranged from Him. God’s love is not based on our deserving nature but springs forth from His sovereign choice to extend reconciliation to humanity (2 Corinthians 5:19-21). Through Jesus, we find salvation and the assurance of eternal life when we embrace Him as the sole path to reunion with our Creator (John 14:6).

Being human means having an eternal destiny.

The human experience extends beyond our earthly existence, transcending the boundaries of mortality. John 5:28-29, Romans 6:23, and Revelation 20:14-15 illuminate the two divergent paths that await human beings after death. Those who reject God’s offer of salvation and reconciliation condemn themselves to eternal torment, having chosen rebellion over a restored relationship with their Creator. Conversely, those who embrace Jesus as their Savior embark on a journey of eternal life, basking in a profound and intimate connection with God.

In conclusion, the essence of being humanity is multifaceted. Being human mandates a subservience and submission to our Creator. Human beings have an incomparable value, stemming from our unique image-bearing status. Although marred by sin, God’s immeasurable love reaches out to us, offering the gift of salvation and reconciliation through Jesus Christ. The choices we make in response to this divine offer determine our eternal destiny—a destiny that holds both wonder and fear. May our exploration of humanity’s depths ignite a deeper understanding of our purpose and ignite a pursuit of a restored relationship with our loving Creator.

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He loves studying the Bible and helping others understand it. He also runs The Bible Sojourner podcast and Youtube channel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *