I’ve heard it said “to be truly human is to be truly know, yet someone who hides can never be known”. After spending a weekend with many other Christians at the CUI Annual Conference my mind has been inclined to reflect upon certain points.
To begin, I think it is interesting how we are the most connected people in history, through social media and so many other forums. We can tell what people have eaten for breakfast halfway across the world and feel the need give them a ‘like’ or ‘love’. Yet, it is reasonable to say we are probably one of most disconnected, fragmented, lonely and self–centred people in history.
This weekend many young students were challenged with the question: what does it mean to be truly human?
Imago Dei: Being a human means being made in the ‘image of God’ (Genesis 1:27). From the creation story, mankind is displayed as the pinnacle of God’s handiwork. In fact, we reflect His image. This is essential to our humanity, being a representative of the image of God on this earth. Further, within the image of God is a community: Father, Son and Spirit. They act as one, serving together as one, in perfect harmony. The point of being made in the image of God then is to do the same. Serve, commune, and love.
Wisdom: This seems like the kind of subject associated with Gandalf or a wise hobbit, yet it is crucial to who we are as humans. Modern culture might define wisdom along these lines – the ability to recognise the limitations of the world and succeed within those constraints. In comparison, Christianity decides to go against the tide, explaining wisdom as “understanding God’s world and living in it, discovering and co–operating with what He is doing”. What helped me from this weekend was examining the book of Ecclesiastes and knowing that having true wisdom is learning to work and enjoy the beauty and rhythm, even within a fallen world – “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (3:4).
Alternative Power: Power. A strong word. From governments to the individual, we all exercise it. The contemporary version of power is self–serving. It does not seek to aid the oppressed and lonely. It competes continually in a game for more resources, more control. However, to be truly human is to give this away. To burn this conception of power to the ground. Philippians paints a true picture of power, and that is only found in Jesus: “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6–8). True power expresses humility.
Failure: This is an inevitable part of life. However, in the culture we live in failure is something that is not acknowledged. We are only interested in success and winners. Failure is the plagues of plagues, the worst thing that could possibly happen. Nevertheless. to be truly human is to acknowledge failure and see it as a stumbling block on the ladder of growth. To view it as an opportunity to grow, to learn and develop trust with God in a sinful world. Failure helps God to bring about the means to mature us in our Christian walk. Moreover, be encouraged greatly when you make errors, stumble and fail: Christ says in John that “in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33).
As always you never get around to explaining and thinking about everything you do over a weekend packed with so much banter and fellowship. However, what I can take away, and I hope many others do also, is that true humanity is ultimately to be conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus.
“As we are conformed to the image of Christ, he is made more and more the centre of all things” – John Piper.
With thanks to Andrew from TCDCU for sharing his reflections.