Back in the 1980s, there was a song on the radio with a chorus that went like this:
I’m only humanfrom “Human” by The Human League
Of flesh and blood I’m made
Born to make mistakes
In this particular song, I think the singer is pleading with his girlfriend because he’s wronged her in some way, but it doesn’t really matter. This argument is one we hear countless times in pop culture – movies, TV shows, novels, and songs – and in real life too.
The plea is a way of shifting blame from oneself to “human nature,” which comes either from the original sin of Adam and Eve, from the Cosmos, or from God Himself. But the key is that it’s not my fault, I was born this way.
I don’t know about you, but there have been plenty of times I’ve messed up and wanted to blame my mistakes on “human nature.” After all, Paul said in Romans 3:23 (NIV), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….” If it’s something we all do, can anyone be held responsible?
Yet we also hear the opposite message from our culture. Time and again, I’ve heard, “I believe that at their core, most people are basically good.” People look at all of the decent things people do for one another and draw the conclusion that human nature is to be good, kind, and loyal.
So which is it? Are we basically bad? Basically good? What can we expect from one another?
On Sunday morning, Jurie shared the Gospel of Luke with us. He didn’t dig into all the details, but he showed us how Luke’s perspective as a physician and a ministry partner of the Apostle Paul gave him a different focus from that of the other Gospel authors. While John’s focus was on Jesus’ deity, Luke’s focus was on His humanity.
Jesus was fully God. Jesus was also fully man. It’s hard to hold both of these ideas in our heads at once. I just tell myself, “God is a Being beyond the dimensions of time and space. You are a being within the dimensions of time and space. There are going to be things about God that are hard to grasp. That’s OK; He’s given you everything you actually need to understand in this life.”
What does it mean for us that Jesus was fully human? Jurie pointed out two truths about this idea – one comfortable and one less so. The comfortable truth is that Jesus is relatable. He felt feelings; He had a physical body with all the hungers, thirsts, aches, and pains that our bodies experience; He was tempted. The uncomfortable truth is that Jesus was here as an example of perfect humanity. That is, while He was tempted, He had no sin; while He was persecuted by the elite, He had compassion on the lowly; while He had no sin, He died for His sinful brothers.
Here is the part of the discussion I found most interesting. Luke traced Jesus’ lineage back to Adam, son of God. You can trace your lineage back to the same person. Sometimes it’s hard for us to think of Jesus as fully human because it feels somehow too lowly, too dirty, for Jesus Son of God. Luke emphasizes Jesus’ humanity not to denigrate Jesus, but to elevate mankind. If you are found in Jesus, you are of the God kind.
We are born under the shadow of original sin, just as Paul said in Romans 3. But the really cool thing is that we are born again into a new nature – the nature of the righteous – not by our own strength but by the power of the Spirit of God. Look at what Peter had to say about it:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.2 Peter 1:3-4, NIV
Just as Jesus was fully human, in Him, you get to “participate in the divine nature.” You are no longer “only human;” you are “of the God kind.” You are not God, but you are His. You have been given everything you need for a godly life. This is your identity, your calling, and your re-birthright.
People tend to live up or down to the expectations placed on them. Live up to the birthright due a brother or sister of Jesus, but don’t try to do it from your own strength. Lean into the power of the Holy Spirit, and stand tall.
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