2010-10-21 - What is Man?
The lead character in Hamlet utters a fairly well-known passage that is quite complimentary of mankind. And I will agree that at times man is an amazing creature. The things we have accomplished boggle the mind - the human mind at least.
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
I'm quite glad that Mr. Shakespeare used a small "g" though. We are made in God's image, but we are nothing to be compared to Him. While we have ventured to the Moon and safely back and have built fabulous skyscrapers and even space stations, and continue to unwrap complex medical mysteries, we are no match for the Creator Who gave us our abilities. The trip to the Moon that took 3.5 days one way for the Apollo spacecraft takes under four seconds a round trip at the speed of light. By contrast the known Universe by one estimate is 156 billion light years across (The Universe Measured: We're 156 Billion Light-Years Wide, Space Magazine, 24 May 2004) strewn with dazzling views that have left us speechless.
The complexity of the world around us and plants and animals that live and have lived here is something we grasp at but have not completely understood. Come back around to the complexity of our own intertwined physical, mental, emotional and spiritual existence is an unfolding story. Some would say that we are just another form of animal. On the simplest level there is a connection. I will side with King David in saying that statement is an oversimplification of the facts.
Psa 8:3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; 4 :What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? 5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! 6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, (NASB)
In all of that complexity we are capable of such compassion and alternately unspeakable cruelty. Jeremiah tells is that the human heart is desperately wicked, and asks "... who can know it?" (Jer 17:9). A fair question. We barely know the limits of our own capacity for good and for evil. David asks, "What are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psa 8:4 Today's New International Version). We are a walking contradiction within our own flesh, and God still loved us enough to come and die in our place. Without that willing sacrifice there would have been no other way to save any of us. Father, Son and Holy Spirit cared for the sons of mankind and did what had to be done to save His creation.
If you have caught even a glimpse of the conflict and potential for evil inside your own heart you know what Jeremiah was saying. We are the sons and daughters of a race corrupted by the fall. But one day, solely by the matchless grace of the Lord we who name the name of Jesus Christ will stand with clean hearts and hands, with our minds renewed to the state they were originally meant to be and live together with Him forever.
The alternative is to live without Him forever. What an unimaginably sad state that would be, forever separated from the Lord Who does consider us and loves us in spite of our frailty and failings. If we could work our way to Heaven some other way then Jesus came for no reason - but He came.
Who are we that God cares for us? We can be His sons and daughters if we will only answer His call to come home and accept His gift. How? Admit you can't live this life yourself. Admit you're not perfect (Who is?). Believe that Jesus came and died in your place to pay the price for your failings [sins]. Commit yourself to Him - ask for His forgiveness and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. And finally, do it today.
Grace & Peace,