Having worked in ministry for over seven years, I can say with complete honesty that I have seen and heard some rather distressing things from people. The horrific things individuals have experienced at the hands of others. The horrible things people have done to themselves. The brutal things people have done to others. I have spent ten years of my life witnessing, experiencing, praying and interceding for hours on end to the point of tears, for those left in the wake of the human wreckage left behind by these events. And this experience has brought me to this conclusion. Humanity is a choice.
We are all born, whether we want to admit it or not, into the animal kingdom. The binomial nomenclature used to define us is, “homo sapien”, meaning human or literally translated, "wise man". Black's Law Dictionary goes further to define us as "homo vocabulum est naturae; persona juris civilis , meaning Man is a term of nature; person of civil law.1 Being a person of nature... and what "nature" means, is what I want to discuss.
Merrian Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines the state of nature as "a creative and controlling force in the universe" and "the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing". What anyone who watches the news or has any familiarity with history knows, is that the "inherent character" of the homo sapien is that of aggression. Our species was able to survive in nature, dispite our small stature in comparison to other mammals, because we are the most dangerous thing on this planet. Homo sapiens are at the top of the the food chain... we are the dominant creature on planet earth, but our intelligence and dominance is not what makes us human beings.
Personally, I believe that being a "human being" is a higher form of life. It's more than just self awareness, but awareness of a "being" that is higher than us. Acts 17:28 says that, "in Him we live and move and have our being"... and that our "being" is that breath of life that was blown into the first man's nostrils which caused man to become a living being [Genesis 2:7].
Everyone who has lived for any length of time has experienced some degree of pain. Pain, unfortunately is a part of life and learning how to deal with that pain in ways that don’t do damage to ourselves or others is the work of life, and a good part of why many of us belong to faith communities. It certainly is the reason I left the Catholic Church and joined a charismatic, non-denominational, spirit-filled church. I needed the cathartic, redemptive experience of praise and worship to help me deal with… to heal from past hurts. I needed the balm of Gilead, and in the Catholic Church, that was not available to me. I needed to know that along with the cross that we all must bear as believers... the temptation of sin, illness and rejection, all things that Christ himself had to deal with, that I also had a refuge in prayer and that we are to pray without ceasing [1 Thessalonians 5:17]. I needed to know that I had a defense in knowing the Word and the promises of God and that I could fight back against evil when it afflicted me. I needed to know that I could put on the “whole armor of God”… that there actually was an armor to put on… in order to stand against the wiles of the devil in that evil day [Ephesian 6:10-13] and that the "evil day" was not any specific day, but any day that I was faced with pain, disappointment, illness, loss or temptation that afflict all of us in life. I needed to know that praising God is one of the most powerful weapons there is against negative situations because “praise stills the avenger”[Psalms 8:2] and that "stilling the avenger" sometimes means changing the situation, but most of the time it means changing me in the situation, the avenger in me... that I do things God's way, and not my own. I needed to know all I can do, is what I can do, and that as long as I have done what I'm supposed to do, and put my trust in God's word and cast all my cares on Him, that He would care for me. [1 Peter 5:7] I needed to know that I as a believer, have a God-given, blood-bought covenantal right to expect God's intervention because heaven and earth shall pass but His word would never pass away [Matthew 13:31].
Knowing these things, and believing God's word, is what makes me a human being. It elevates me above the state of nature, and brings me into His divine nature, where I truly can live and move and have my being.
1Black's Law Dictionary 6th Edition, Centennial Edition 1891-1991; (St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company, 1990), pg. 736.