The Meaning of Human Lifeby
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Man’s life is a mystery. Scholars, historians, and philosophers through the centuries have sought to understand man and the meaning of human existence. Despite man’s endeavors to probe into the secrets of the universe, the universe remains a mystery. Although many consider the universe and man’s purpose on this earth to be an insoluble riddle, the Bible, one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind, unlocks this mystery. The Bible is God’s revelation to man. It reveals the reality concerning God, the universe, man, the relationship between man and God, the relationships among men, and man’s obligation to God, as seen through creation and the Scripture.
God’s Word tells us that He is self-existing and ever-existing. In eternity past God was there. At a certain point He made a decision to create man. God’s desire was to have this man express Him in His image and represent Him with His authority on earth (Gen. 1:26-28).
This is quite meaningful. Before God created man, He made billions of items in this universe. He created the plant life, the animal life, and finally the highest life, the human life. We can easily see that the plants were created for the animals, and the animals were created for mankind. However, it is not easy to realize that man was made for God’s purpose. The Bible tells us in the very first pages of Genesis that God’s creation of man was different from His creation of all other things. He created man in His own image. Let us illustrate this matter by using a glove. In the regions of the world where there are long, harsh winters and extreme cold, most people are accustomed to wearing warm gloves. A person’s hand cannot fit into a handkerchief because it does not have the image or form of the hand. Because the glove is in the image, the likeness, and the form of a hand, it is able to contain the hand. A glove is made in the form of a hand for the purpose of containing the hand. In the same way, the human life was created according to the image of God so that God could dispense Himself as the divine life into the human life.
Man was created not only to express God but also to be God’s representative authority. God wanted man to rule over this created earth with His dominion. Although God judged and sentenced His enemy, Satan, the created man was committed with the responsibility to execute this judgment. Man was to rule over a vast territory for God.
The unique way for man to express God and represent God is to receive God as his life that man may become a counterpart of God. Man was created with the capacity to receive and contain God’s divine life. All of man’s human virtues, such as love, honor, and goodness, were created by God so that man may have God’s life and live out the divine attributes.
Man’s life is the highest created life, much higher in quality than the plant life or animal life. Not only so, man was created after God’s kind. The animals in God’s creation were created after their own kind. Thus, the animal life cannot contain or express the human life. However, man was made after God’s kind, with the ability and capacity to receive another life—the divine life. In this respect man is unique in all God’s creation.
Not only so, man is a vessel, a container (Rom. 9:21, 23). Because we are vessels of God, God wants to be our content. Just as bottles are made to contain milk and beverages, we are made to contain God. This is the reason that knowledge, wealth, material possessions, and accomplishments can never satisfy us, because we were created to contain God.
All human beings, regardless of their race or nationality, are vessels of God. The Bible, the word of God, divides this vessel into three parts—the spirit, the soul, and the body (1 Thes. 5:23). Everyone is aware of his own physical body. It is tangible, concrete, temporal, and lends itself to scientific investigation. If we were to ask a chemistry professor, “What are the physical properties that constitute man’s physical makeup?” he might produce an analysis chart and point out that human beings are composed of so many percent water, nitrogen, carbon, and various other elements. As a professor of chemistry, he would be correct, no doubt, according to his field of research. However, his research would be limited to the physical part of man’s being, the part that is made up of the elements of the earth. Since the beginning of history man has sought to be free from the imprisonment of his body. He has tried to find new ways of pleasing his overworked senses, only to find that it all has been done before. Although man has managed to prolong biological life, every man comes to the point where he has to admit that the body is a dead end. God’s purpose for man does not focus on man’s physical body.
After examining man according to his view, a psychologist might say that besides man’s body, man has an inward, hidden composition. Man has a mind, a thinking organ. He also has emotions, the faculty of inner feeling, capable of loving, hating, and being depressed and elated. He might also point out that man has a will, a faculty for making decisions. In short, man is a living, thinking, feeling, and deciding entity—not mere animated dust but a real, living person, having a unique and distinctive personality. He would say that our inner self, our psychological self, is our real self, while our body is merely the outward shell of our being. Psyche, the root of such English words as psychiatry and psychology, comes from the Greek word meaning “soul.” Psychology is the study of the soul. The three faculties of mind, will, and emotion compose the personality and are merely the components of the human soul.
The last two centuries of human history have seen the spectacular rise of the soul’s powers. The great minds such as Churchill, Einstein, Emerson, and Dostoevsky have contributed an abundance of thought. The great wills have produced an abundance of decisive action in government and culture. Without a doubt the soul has soared to its peak in the past few decades. Yet in spite of man’s great accomplishments, the sense of inner emptiness remains. We can conquer the moon, but within ourselves there remains some uncharted territory. We can study the world’s great philosophies and still not find the answer to the great questions concerning our human existence. We can obtain the highest education and yet remain restless and dissatisfied. Within the soul of man, the search for the meaning of human life will always end in frustration.
Hidden and obscured, there is a faculty deep within man that has remained a mystery throughout all the ages. It is deeper than the soul. Just as the life-giving marrow is hidden within the bone, hidden within the soul is the human spirit. The spirit of man was made specifically to contain God Himself, to be filled with God. Man is never satisfied because this deepest part still remains to be filled. Through the mind man is able only to consider God and know God objectively, but through the spirit man is able to contact God, contain God, and enjoy God.
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