Thought For The Week
WHAT IS HUMAN?
To date we have looked at twenty-one answers to the question ‘What is human?’ Ten of these focused on the way humans were in the perfection of the original created pair. Eleven are meditations on the condition of the human since Genesis 3, when in our first parents we rebelled against God, rejecting his definition of human and his boundaries for human life. These eleven descriptions of what is human all point to the fact that humans are extremely needy.
The words of Jesus Christ to the Church in Laodicea are instructive here:
‘You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked’ [Revelation 3:17].
Similarly, Jesus told a parable about a ‘rich fool’ who had so much of this world’s goods that he decided to build bigger barns in which to store his abundance. His material success and wealth made him ignore his createdness and his mortality. For him, God was irrelevant. He did not recognize his spiritual poverty:
‘God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God’ [Luke 12:20,21; read 12:14-21].
The Jews of Jesus’ day failed to recognize their spiritual destitution and enslavement. When he told them that the truth would set them free, they responded:
‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’ [John 8:30]
Regardless of how rich we might be in terms of money, possessions, success, fame or power, we are, in ourselves, spiritually poor. No matter how highly we might regard our religious heritage and our ritual performance, we are similarly spiritually impoverished. We have no spiritual bank balance. We have no spiritual credit.
Thus God, through the prophet Isaiah, urges us:
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost’ [Isaiah 55:1].
And the Lord Jesus declares:
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled’ [Matthew 5:6].
‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water’ [John 4:10].
‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him’ [John 7:37].
God knows how needy we are.
He knows that in our ignorance we will never find him.
He knows that in our rebellion we will never return to him.
He knows that we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
He knows that we are spiritually bankrupt, burdened with the guilt and the penalty of our sin, and incapable of redeeming ourselves.
He also knows that in our self-confidence and self-centredness we will never acknowledge our spiritual destitution. He knows that left to ourselves we will never acknowledge that we are ‘thirsty’ and ‘hungry’ and come to him for spiritual sustenance and life.
‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem … how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing’ [Luke 13:34].
To the spiritually needy Jesus Christ gives both an invitation:
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest … and you will find rest for your souls’ [Matthew 11:28,29].
And a promise:
‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty’ [John 6:35].