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Cynthia Clayton The title for Cynthia's Corner

What Does It Mean
to Be Human?

Humans are classified as Homo sapiens, meaning “wise man.” According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “They are distinguished by a marked erectness of body carriage freeing their hands for manipulative use (tools, writing, etc.) and a more highly developed brain and a resultant capacity for articulate speech and abstract reasoning.” In Genesis 1, after God created the cosmos and Earth became habitable for life, he created sea creatures and birds and then land animals. Lastly, God created man, the only animal he “created in his own image” (Genesis 1:26-27). How does that make humans unique from all other animals? What did God give humans that he did not give to other animals, and why?

Let us start by acknowledging that God, the Creator, is a spiritual being, not a physical one. So if he gave humans something “in his likeness, in his image,” it has to be spiritual, not physical. We have a body, a mind, and a spiritual soul that comes from God.

How does our soul manifest itself since it is not a physical part of us? We cannot see it. We cannot see God either, but we can see his effects. Romans 1:19-20 tells us, “… what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature —  have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made … .” Just as we can “see” God's invisible qualities, we can also see the effects of our being made in God’s spiritual image.

We are conscious of good versus evil (read Genesis 2:17; 3:1-11), meaning we are moral beings who can choose to do right or wrong. God gave us free will. We are reasoning beings who seek knowledge and understanding of the world. We are creative and curious. Because God made us in his image, we have the capacity to appreciate beauty, art, design, music, etc., as no other living thing can.

The Bible says God is love (1 John 4:16). He created us with a desire to love and be loved and to love him. Because of our soul, we have the capacity for sacrificial love, compassion, mercy, justice, and kindness that other animal life does not have. The most important thing that shows we are in God's image is our capacity to look to a higher power and believe we have an eternal purpose. We express that ability when we seek and worship God. God says through Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has set eternity in the hearts of men.” Our eternal soul longs to know God.

— Cynthia Clayton

Picture credit:
© Julie Marcussen

Scripture links/references are from BibleGateway.com. Unhighlighted scriptures can be looked up at their website.