The Educational Support Organization, Inc.
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The Nourishing Place
Sermon, January 19, 2020
What does it mean to be human and humane?
Scripture tells us we were the last of the major animals to appear on earth...science tells us there were approximately 27 different types of hominids who preceded homo sapien on this earth. The last of those to die out was the Neandertal people who lived until about 30,000 years ago, leaving only homo sapien (thinking man) to rule the earth.
Physically we are similar to our predecessors as well as the great mammalian apes...we all have a brain of different sizes, two eyes, two ears, one nose one mouth, two arms and hands...however we are the only mammal that stands up straight without using our arms as legs. So the primary difference in us and other animals resides on the inside of us, not the outside.
We as humans can communicate not just through guttural sounds or songs like animals and birds, but through an elongated larynx and flexible tongue. Through those traits we are able to communicate ably using words and symbols as well as body gestures, posture and facial expressions. As humans we make our own decisions and bear the consequences of them. We make and wear clothing to keep us warm in winter and cool in summer. We are able to think about thinking, and to ponder our past, present and future. We are also able to fit into different groups such as racial, cultural, religious, and political ones. We have curiosity and intelligence...all God given at our births. These are what we inherit from our ancestors genes.
Humans are not specialized as other animals are. Because of our intelligence we can run like a dog, climb like a squirrel, swim like a dolphin, and fly (using our own creations) like birds.
All other animals are specialized and therefore limited in scope and reason
Those are the most important things that make us human...in the image of a flexible and non-specialized God entity. We as humans are truly amazing creations that have only now begun to understand all that we are in the image of our creator.
Because of our intelligence and awareness of life around us, we can learn to be humane humans. To be humane means we have compassion for others, we show gratitude, we live frugally in the midst of plenty so that we can share with others, we live not just for ourselves but also for our families and neighbors. In other words, being humane means advancing the creation of God, in both tangible and intangible ways.
There is an age old conflict among intellectuals: some say we are born compassionate through our human nature, others say we learn compassion and love by the way we are treated in our formative years. I believe we are born with the capacity for compassion and love, but we must learn how to accept those traits as gifts from our creator and learn to act on them to enhance life and bring the kingdom of God to where ever we are at all times. I believe that is one reason Jesus the Christ lived and died when and why he did. I don’t think he died to appease the wrath of God. I don’t think he died to save us from our sins. Rather, I think he lived and died to teach us the glory of being humane, which is another word for love of self and others. That was the great divide that occurred 2000 years ago ...when people stopped centering their lives on power and greed and began to understand the power of loving others at all cost!
Being humane encompasses the best qualities of mankind. Where animals are limited in being compassionate to others, we as humans can show tenderness, compassion, love, and acceptance to other humans and animals. If someone is inhumane, he or she lacks compassion for the suffering of others.
I expect God expects his creation, human and otherwise, to respect him and the ways of living he has planned out for us...not to benefit God so much as to benefit our selves. It has been scientifically proven that the more love you give the better you feel about yourself, and the more you like yourself.
Someone once told me then love is selfish...aha...this is the beauty of being both human and humane...life is a circle. What we sow we reap. What we give to others returns to us 30, 60, 100 fold in many different ways. Life, love, compassion, and all eternity is a circle with no beginning and no ending….in between we have our own personal lives to choose how to live and with how much humane-ness. God has given it all to us, but he allows us to either be miserly in giving love and forgiveness, or to be so loving, so forgiving, so compassionate that we are truly happy and peaceful no matter what else happens to us. That is great secret of human success hidden or expressed in every Biblical story, every proverb and every commandment.
We can and need to rejoice in our humanity, and to be as much like our humane God Spirit as we can be. It makes life an exquisite experience filled with love, joy, peace, and grace.