1. When we see humanity as too elevated. I suspect everything I will write in this post about humanity will really be leaning toward tomorrow’s post about sin. I’m convinced that we simply don’t grasp how profound our problems actually are. We swim in the brine of a post-Genesis 3 world and we are saturated to the core of our being, but don’t realize it. Consequently our view of humanity can easily get too elevated, while losing sight of how special we are. The issue is God’s image. What does it mean to be made in God’s image? When we corrupt the image language of Genesis 1 with notions of autonomy, authority and rule apart from relationality, then we end up with a mis-measured humanity. The wonder of humanity is that we are made in the image of a relational God and we are made for relationship with Him. Too much of our gospel-vision lacks a real grasp of how deep that design goes. Instead we fall for a mis-measured human vision of autonomy, rule and authority. Suddenly the image of God is about god-like qualities of abstract thinking and self-definition and self-determination and dominion over others and rule over creation . . . and our thinking about Genesis 1 (image) sounds and smells like Genesis 3 (hiss).
2. When we see humanity too individually. This is another way of saying essentially the same thing. I suspect many of us are better at spotting individuality in our reading of the New Testament than we are at spotting it in our reading of humanity. That is to say, I suspect many of us know that the “you” of the epistles is usually “you all” rather than “you and you and you and you.” It makes a difference. Especially for us English speakers who don’t distinguish you singular from you plural. We are saved into a corporate entity called the church, not given separate and distinct individual memberships for our own benefit. So we hopefully see that on a horizontal level, but I suspect we still fall into seeing humans as stand-alone creatures. It is the world that measures life and success by the items listed on a curriculum vitae or resume. Our identity does not consist in our collection of capacities (education, experience, skills, references), but rather in the fabric of relationships with which we are enriched. If we don’t grasp the difference, we will preach a gospel that tends toward personal benefits and relational disconnection.
3. When we see humanity as inherently good, but hindered. I am out of words, but this can lead into tomorrow. How bad is our problem? Do we have a broken will that needs enabling? Do we have a clouded mind that needs clearing? Or is the problem much deeper and more devastating?