I want to know what it means to be human.
Not in the way that social activists and hipsters do it, either, going about surveying their inner thoughts and reading poorly-thought-out articles on news sites I wouldn’t exactly trust with an envelope of facts. Opinion, opinion, opinion, and all about how other people should be human according to so-and-so.
Is what I have to say opinion? Probably. I’m not looking to change anyone’s mind about what Christians think of sex before marriage, or if we need to “accept” everyone (whatever that means), or of anything like that. If God plants a seed of thought in you while you read this, great. If you flip your table and rage across town to get as far away from your computer as possible, great. I don’t care what media says, online or in broadcast or in print. I, a human, want to explore what it means to be human.
I don’t really know how to go about doing this, so bear with me while I try. Exploration is easier, I think, than having a full outline and sitting down, only to discover that Truth (Big T) doesn’t fit your ideas. That’s always an interesting phenomenon.
Let’s start with a simple question, if there is such a thing: What are humans designed to do? Well, narrow this down and you have more subjects, more types of humans. Doctors, writers, scientists, policemen, soldiers, politicians, janitors, mothers, fathers, pastors, teachers, anything you can think of. Now, ideally, these people operate in these specific ways because they either have a passion for that specific thing, or they have a passion related to it, or they didn’t have a passion for it and developed one once they started working, whatever the case.
Socrates talks about living the Good life, that that’s the ultimate achievement, and that virtue is what one should strive for at all times. But what does that mean? For a thief, Good could constitute rolling in stolen money and sitting pretty, but that takes away his virtue. Or a nurse could work her job and be rotten to the patients, hence taking away her virtue there. Put this line of thought–of virtue, that is–and marry it to Christian thought, and we find a key element of a start to being human. Can you guess yet?
Let me give you a little more. All the fields of work I mentioned above are optional. These people aren’t forced at gunpoint to be writers or fathers or policemen or janitors. Sometimes you work a job because it brings in money to live on for you or you and your family (janitors) and sometimes you take on a mantel because you know it’s the honourable thing to do. The virtuous thing (parenthood).
What drives this? What drove Jesus to be the Savior of the entire human race when he didn’t have to be? “He had a choice?” you may ask. And my answer is, “Yes. Yes, He did.” He could call down legions of angels and destroy mankind for its insolence if He wanted to; as if He would be forced to suffer a common criminal’s demise, and worse!
No. He chose to do it. Why? Why does a janitor with a degree in electrical engineering take a job far below his talent? Why does a doctor worth her salt take on difficult cases not knowing what lay ahead? Why do parents in dire straits fight for their children?
Can you guess now?
I have learned that people are designed–purposefully modeled–as vessels into which love must be poured, and back out of which love must pour itself. Without it, we wither. With soiled love, we suffer poisoning. And you know the hardest thing about love? It hurts. It can’t be explained. It defies every expectation you put into yourself.
We’re not mere bowls where people can dip their fingertips and feel warm and fuzzy and walk away with a superficial impression that they’ve done their “duty” as a human. Real love wrenches your gut. Real love looks at social justice and fights not for women, not for Muslims, not for the black community, but for humans. This planet hosts an enormous, beautiful amount of cultural difference; it only hosts one race: humans. Real love sits back and tilts its head, says, “If I do this, it’ll definitely push me into the zone of having a panic attack. Forget comfort, I’ll be a completely different person if I do that.” And it does it anyway, because love makes us who we’re meant to be, and usually that someone is better than the person who would walk away and leave that guy begging for a dollar up the creek without a nickel to float on.
Rocks are worn smooth by the bashing of waves and the whipping of winds. If we’re rocks, then life is the wind and love the waves. Love makes us human. So the next time you look at that really annoying person you can’t stand to be around; when you see the news and the violence across the globe and want to fight; as you struggle to not punch that jerk in the face, the one who just cut in line in front of you at Starbucks–remember that you are filled with love. Why not spread some?