“What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? … You made him little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor” (Ps 8:4-5).
The world is inhabited by different yet similar people. They speak a wide variety of languages and have all kinds of life styles. While the one rides an ox cart, the other flies his own jet. Even a casual observer cannot help but marvel and ask himself the question, “what is man?”
Human answers to this question are probably as numerous as there are men on this earth. Let us therefore lay aside all human answers and search the Bible, the Word of God, where we find the answer of our Creator.
Man is created by God and forms an integral part of the rest of creation. He is created out of dust, and therefore, has a definite dust-side to his life. We share senses, nervous system and biological functions with many other species. Still, there is a major distinction between man and the rest of the created order. Man has a unique dignity. He is called the supreme creation. He was created in God’s own image. And one part of this divine image in man is his freedom of choice. A dog has no choice about his deportment. But man can make choices, and influence his character, his habits and his complete way of life. Man was created with a purpose. He was created as he is in order that he might fully and freely serve God with all he is.
Unfortunately, man made the wrong choice. Misusing his freedom, and choosing not to serve and obey God, he has fallen from God’s intended dignity. And with the abuse of God’s gift of freedom, man proceeds to abuse God’s other gifts to mankind. His depravity can be seen in how he handles the natural world over which God gave him stewardship. And it can be seen in how he deals with other human beings. Man is a social being; he needs the company of others. And God, recognizing this need, gave him his fellow men to relate to. The injustice with which one man treats another clearly reflects the tragic abuse of this special gift of God to us.
God gave man the ability to choose his way of life. But what life would He have us choose? How should man live? The answer is found in the way we handle the relationships of life. One fulfills the divine intention of God by proper relationships. First and foremost, by a proper relationship to God. The essence of humanity is the possibility of interaction between God and man. A person fulfills his first duty when he recognizes that God is his Creator and man is only the created.
Another part of man’s duty lies in his relationship to nature. Man was given dominion over the earth. He may use the natural world, but not abuse it. He was appointed its caretaker or steward. Environmental awareness may seem a new trend, but it was taught by God from the very beginning.
And what is our duty regarding our social relationships? They should be built on that same love which is expressed in God’s relationship to man. Jesus said, “My commandment is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). What, then, is this love of God like? The apostle Paul allows us a deep look into the loving heart of God (1 Cor 13). And John relates how God put this unending love into action by sending his only Son to pave the way for the salvation of millions (John 3:16). And just as God sent his Son, so He sends us (John 20:21), to bring his salvation to others. This is how God loved men, and this is how He wants us to love. If we follow this example of God’s love, we are certain to fulfill this crucial part of our duty in life.
Thank you, Lord, for showing us so clearly how we should live. Help me to relate in the right way to You, my Creator, and to love my fellow man with your sacrificial and life-saving love. Amen.