What Does It Mean to Be Human?

The Biblical view of humanity is that we are spiritual creatures created in the image of God. Therefore, a human being is more than just a physical body. This means that your body does not define you (thank God), nor does it determine your value (just ask Stephen Hawking). Here are 4 things Jesus said about the body.

newborn baby


What Does It Mean to Be Human?

The Biblical view of what it means to be human, then, is actually quite the opposite of many popular views. Here are a few of the more popular historical views: 1

  • Man as Machine – A human being is a thing defined by what he is able to do (La Mettrie’).
  • Man as Animal – A human is simply a member of the animal kingdom, albeit a higher form (Durad).
  • Man as Sexual Being – Human sexuality is the defining framework of being human (Freud).
  • Man as Economic Being – Human beings are defined by the quest for material satisfaction (Adam Smith).
  • Man as Pawn of the Universe – Human beings are at the mercy of impersonal forces in the world that have no real concern for them (Sarte).
  • Man as Free Being – Human beings are defined by their ability to choose (Steiner).
  • Man as Social Being – Human beings are defined by social relationships (Aristotle).


Why It Doesn’t Work

While there may be some truth in each of these views, none of them completely satisfy the totality of the human experience.

For instance:

  • We know the ugly feeling of being viewed as solely an object to be used for material gain (Man as Machine).
  • We understand that while we are certainly animal-like in many ways, there is an ache we feel that is beyond animalistic (Man as Animal).
  • We know the euphoria of sex and economic gain, and the emptiness that inevitably follows (Man as Sexual Being; Man as Economic Being).
  • We appreciate the joy of self-determination but also shudder at the horrifying consequences that often follow our “freedom to choose” — genocide, infanticide, holocaust, etc. (Man as Free Being).
  • We know the emptiness and loneliness we can feel even as we are surrounded by family and friends (Man as Social Being).
  • We instinctively reject the despair of the idea that the Universe is some pointless and indiscriminate series of coincidences (Man as Pawn of the Universe).

Jesus offers a different view. The Christian view of human beings is that we are a creation of God, made in his image, and for his purposes. And the physical body is a small, but important part of that creation.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Cor. 12:27)


4 Things Jesus Said About the Human Body

1. You are much more than just your physical body.

Jesus taught that there are things in this life much more important than your body (Matt. 6:25). He taught, of his own death, that the body dies, is “planted in the ground,” and then becomes something even more glorious (John 12:24). Jesus would know — after all, he gave up his glorious body to become like us (John 1:14, with a physical body).

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:20-21).

2. Your physical body is temporary.

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:4-5).

Jesus taught that everything in this world would one day pass away and that we would live on (Matt. 25:34, 46). The body is only temporarily important in this life.

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).

3. Your body is a container meant to honor God.

“But the temple he had spoken of was his body” (John 2:21).

Jesus taught that every aspect of our being was created by God to bring honor to his name. We were created in his image and therefore carry him with us everywhere we go. Whatever we do with our bodies, we bring Jesus into it.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

4. Your body belongs to Jesus.

Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath?” (John 7:23).

Jesus said that the body was more important than the Law because the body was created by God first. Your body is important to God because he created you. You are connected to God, and you belong to him (John 15:5).

“The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor. 6:13).







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