What is Man?

What is man?” is really a question of our significance. To be fulfilled, and to be complete, we have to know that we are significant…that we matter. We ask “Am I just an insignificant speck in this giant cosmos we call the “universe”?, or “Do I really matter in the grand scheme of things?“. What is man?

These questions beg for answers, because deep in our hearts, we really want to know if our brief existence on this earth counts for anything beyond our immediate sphere of influence. This is not just another study of our creation, although that is a vital part of the answer to these questions, but instead we need to look at what makes us significant as human beings, made in God’s image. What I want to try to answer is “Are we significant?“, and if we are, “Why are we significant?“. This reaches deep into the core of our person-hood.

Looking for significance in all the wrong places…

For a person without the sense of true person-hood, their significance usually comes from the roles they play in society, the things they do, and their achievements and titles. These people often have grown up without any affirmation of their value as a person. Their only value is in what they could do, not in who they are.

Recently I was talking with a friend of my parents, and he told me that my dad had told him that “he was proud of me“. My dad passed away last year, and this was the first time anyone had ever told me that dad was proud of me. Dad had never told me that he was proud of me. I asked mom “Why?“, but she didn’t have any answer. Growing up, I was only what I could do…

Strip all of their “doing” away, and they are an empty shell…with no significance…with no sense of who they are.

My story…

As I have already alluded to, I grew up with no sense of who I was, because all I had was what I could do. Dad was a demanding perfectionist, and I very rarely met up to his high standards. That made every rejection even more difficult, because it stripped me of some piece of “what” I was. Finally, last year, the last vestige of my “whats” was stripped away from me when my wife left me for another man. I was left as a hurting, empty shell…a non-person. I had moved away from the fire department where I was the Safety Officer to marry her, and then my wife had ripped my “husbandhood” away from me. Yes, I often asked God “Do I really matter?“, but all I got was stony silence. Sometimes I thought I would be better off dead, and that if I just disappeared, no one would ever miss me. That was one of the lowest times of my life…

Man…

During the early days of creation, God had spoken and the universe took shape. He had waved His hand, and the galaxies fanned out across the cosmos. He had said “Let there be light“, and the nuclear fires of the stars started burning. God spoke, and plants and animal sprang to life. Then God paused and had a conference…

God said “Let us make man in our image…” (Genesis 1:26), and rather than speaking man into existence, God came down to earth to do this project Himself. Man was going to be a creature like no other…

Imagine with me, if you will, the curiosity of the animals and birds, as God knelt down and scooped up a handful of dirt…cosmic dust. Perhaps they were wondering what God was going to do with that dirt… Then, as God formed a head, the great apes might have thought that it looked a lot like theirs. From the head came a sturdy neck, then broad shoulders, with long, strong arms, and unique hands. As a master-sculptor forms a figure from clay, this being started taking shape. A strong trunk then extended down from the head and shoulders, with a narrow waist, and then long, muscular legs…with unique feet. Between the legs God formed the unique genitals…the creature would have a definable gender. It was going to be a male. God then took a slender twig and started placing openings in the nose, the mouth, the penis, and between the cheeks of that muscular bottom. Each opening had a purpose, but at this point, all it was, was a lifeless piece of sculpture, a body made of clay, but God wasn’t done quite yet…

As the animals watched, God did something else they had never seen before. He bent over and place His face above the face of that lifeless sculpture, and He started breathing His own breath into that nose and mouth. As God’s breath entered that lifeless body, its eyes opened, its heart started beating, its lungs started pumping, and the man became alive. As God stood up, so did the man, and the birds and animals marveled at the resemblance. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being“. (Genesis 2:7)

As the birds and animals watched, God laid His new man down to rest. They were totally-unprepared to watch God perform surgery on His new man, but God did, taking a rib from his chest. Then they watched as God formed another new creature from the rib, except that the new creature looked different. Sure, there were similarities, but there were differences as well. This new creature was given breasts…something all the mammals recognized, and then the genitals went inward. This one was going to be a female. Even the shape of her body was different, and they had never seen a creature as beautiful as she. God took her by the hand, and she stood up, just like the man. When God woke the man up, He introduced the woman to the man. What a lovely couple.

Man was God’s personal creation…his finest work of art… After God form the man and his wife, He rested, because His creation was finally complete. God had commissioned the man and his wife to continue the creative process, by having children. They were to become “co-creators” with God.

Our search for significance…

As our other sources of “significance” are stripped away, and crumble around us, our search should lead us to the ultimate Source of our significance…the LORD God. Unfortunately He is usually our “source of last resort“, and for many who have lost all hope, suicide seems to be their only way out.

In 1997, my first wife took that way out. With our marriage in shambles, and our family badly splintered, she sat in our living-room, put a pistol to her head, and pulled the trigger. She was dead before she hit the floor. Her problems were over, but mine had just begun… My own kids have refused any contact with me for over sixteen years. She was dead, and I was totally devastated, because EVERYTHING I held dear had been ripped from my grasp. Those WERE the darkest days of my life, because I had lost my home, my job, my wife, and even my own children. I didn’t have any more to lose, except for my own life, and even that was threatened…

I was introduced to “Search for Significance“, by Robert McGee, in a support-group, but its marvelous message never made it much past my eyes. It would take fifteen more years, and three more failed marriages, before my heart was finally ready to start letting go of the old way, the only way I had ever known of gaining my own significance. Fifty-seven years was long enough…actually fifty-seven years too many.

Do you see yourself in my experience? If you do, hang on, because I am going to reveal our true Source of significance momentarily. If you don’t see yourself in my experience, get down on your knees and thank God.

What is man…

If you are familiar with the Psalms, you will immediately recognize those words as the first three words of Psalm 8, verse 4, and to put it in context, here is the whole Psalm.
O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!
2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
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 are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8)

King David, in contemplating God, His excellence and glory, and His creation, was moved to ask “What is man?“. Even though David had many triumphs in his life, his personal life was in shambles. He was a great warrior, but he spent many years on the run, fearing for his life. Even though God had called him a “man after His own heart“, David had committed adultery with the wife of one of his commanders, and then had the man murdered. David had no reason to believe that he had any true significance…apart from the significance God gave him.

David came to discover, as we must, that God has bestowed on mankind a special kind of significance, as His ambassadors and viceroys in His world. As God’s ONLY personal creation, man stands head-and-shoulders above everything else that God has created.

Being human gives us a dignity that nobody, and no situation can strip from us. We are the only creatures in all of creation that bear the image of God…and that includes angels. Satan must have cringed every time he saw the unclothed forms of Adam and Eve, because they possessed the one thing he could never possess – God’s image. I pray that you allow the implications of this Psalm sink deep into your heart and soul.

One more thing…

If you are thinking: “WOW! It doesn’t get any better than this!“, I have some good news for you… the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you are in Christ, you are a child of God, and an heir with Him of everything God the Father owns. If you are a child of God, it DOESN’T get any better than this, but it is all you need, for all eternity.

If you are not in Christ, and have not accepted Him as your Savior and Lord, I am pleading with you to do so today, because your future is very bleak, regardless of your earthly successes and achievements. Those things will be forever stripped away from you the moment you take your last breath. You may be a billionaire in this life, but you will die a pauper, because EVERYTHING stays behind when you die.

I may be a pauper on this earth, but I am an heir to riches untold, and when I die, they will be mine for all eternity.

Take your pick…riches now…for a few brief years, and poverty for all eternity, or poverty now…for a few brief years, and untold riches for all eternity. I’ll take mine then.

What is man?

4 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
(Psalm 8:4-5)

I pray that this is YOUR significance. It is mine, and nobody can take it away from me.

Final thoughts…

I have great worth apart from my performance, because Christ gave His life for me, and therefore imparted great value to me. I am deeply loved, fully pleasing, totally forgiven, accepted, and complete in Christ.

God bless!

Advertisements

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s