If you believe you’re a bowling ball, today’s going to go very badly.
Which is why I don’t like the phrase, “I’m only human.”
Beliefs have consequences.
I get why people say it. “I’m only human” is meant to keep us from pride, legalism, or both. Pride says we can make something of ourselves by ourselves. Legalism says we can be good enough to earn God’s favor by ourselves. “I’m only human” is meant to ground us in the reality that we actually can’t do life on our own. We’re created, not the Creator. Or to quote Captain America (of all people), “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”
But in my experience, “only human” creeps—spreads like mold, a disease, or a tyrant. It doesn’t only combat pride and legalism. It goes on to combat humanity itself.
What do I mean?
In the biblical narrative, to be a human being is not an “only” kind of thing. It’s more of a fantastic, incredible, astounding, “oh my gosh, can you believe it!” kind of thing. To be created human is to be given a tremendous gift with the utmost honor.
If in doubt, look at Genesis 1. No other creature in heaven or on earth is created “in God’s image.” We are. Can you even fathom?
But maybe that glory was lost at the fall. Look at the Incarnation. Even after our rebellion, God bestows inestimable esteem upon the human race by becoming a human being—fully human. Humanity is so important to Him that He chose to become one of us. Why? Not to rescue us from being human, but to rescue us to become fully human.
Sin corrodes humanity, degrades it, cripples it, mars it. Christ restores humanity.
In light of this, where do you think “only human” originates? Not from God. It comes from one who hates humans and wants them to believe they’re something far less than they are (this scene from the Matrix is one of the best examples of this I’ve seen) so they actually become something far less than they are.
Remember what I said at the beginning of this post: Beliefs have consequences. Tease out for yourself where these two beliefs lead:
- “I’m only human.” – At best, I’m not made for much. At worst, I’m actually a problem.
- “I am human.” – I’m among the honored ones created in the likeness of the Creator. When I became less than He designed, He became human like me so now, in Him, I can become fully human again.
One of these points us toward something less than human, the other toward humanity regained.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts below.
P.S. If you’re concerned about pride and legalism, don’t try to overcome them with a man-made phrase (that’s kind of prideful, don’t you think?). Instead, confess your pride and legalism, and let them be assumed into the body of Christ on the cross. He became pride and legalism so you might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
As good as this article is (and I think it is an excellent article), I was even more strongly struck by the comment by C. S. Lewis on the right side of the e-mail.
“To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity.”
I immediately thought of my many friends in the sport of bowling (yes I am an avid and talented bowler) that don’t or won’t consider that if they don’t accept Jesus as Lord and Savior they will ultimately totally, permanently and completely lose their humanity! What a horrible, but sobering and true thought. I realize I cannot save them, but it does cause me to more fervently pray for them to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus. Thank you, Josh, for this strong reminder. Love you brother!