Being human, being holy
By Jackie Morfesis
Jackie and Coco. Image provided by the author
We are all familiar with the expression, “He isn’t human. He’s an animal” — meaning, an act, usually criminal, was so unbelievable that it could not have been committed by a human. We are deemed “human” when we exemplify the best of humankind and humanity, and we are deemed “inhuman” when we do not.
However, this is not seeing through a scriptural lens. God made us all as human beings on this earth — human beings who are made in His image but who are also fallen, filled with the brokenness of sin. We are not here to be made more “human.” We have already been made “human.” We are here to be made righteous and holy: “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4-6). “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
As an animal lover, I find it especially grievous that we would ascribe the worst of human behavior to the animal kingdom. No animal has done to me what humans have committed against me — or for that matter, against most others.
In the Old Testament, God saved the animals for a reason. Not only because they serve His holy purpose on this earth but also because they were the “innocents.” “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (Psalms 150:6). God created the creatures and they, too, bring Him glory.
My mother used to say that Coco (our beloved Yorkie) was her best child. Certainly my mother loved me; she even told me that I was her “angel child.” Yet Coco embodied unconditional love, which I was eventually blessed to experience with my mother as well. And since I inherited Coco after my father passed away, she still embodies unconditional love. She would give her life for me in a heartbeat, which is something that cannot be said about most “humans.”
So, as we try to understand behavior that is ugly, unkind, jealous, spiteful, deceitful, inauthentic, ungenerous, unmerciful and indeed at times criminal and ungodly, let’s not lose sight of the fact that these acts are not committed because we are no longer human or that we aren’t “human” enough. They are committed by those fully human. Fallen. Broken. Sinful.
We are not here to be made “human beings.” We are here to be made holy and righteous human beings in God’s image. Only then will we fully embody the beauty of our humanness. As our Lord and Savior was made man, fully human and divine, we, too, are called to be fully human and carry the Light of our Lord with us in our daily walk.
To know the truth of who we are and who we are meant to be, we need only look to God’s holy Word. His Word never fails us. God never fails us. Humans, sadly and tragically, do.
One of the ways we can bring hope into seemingly hopeless situations within the brokenness of our humanness is to have mercy and compassion. It’s a miracle in many ways that we do not lose more congregants of Christianity given how we are treated at times by each other. Who hasn’t experienced moments of ugliness and disappointment within our own parishes? Even within Christian organizations we belong to and within which we have served?
Yet this should not lead us to lose hope in humanity because, in truth, we should not place our hope in humanity in the first place. Our hope is in God, our faith is in the Lord and our walk as Christians was never promised to be without suffering, only that in our suffering we are comforted and strengthened in ways no human can provide but that God can always provide.
Jackie Morfesis is a creative, advocate and author. She holds a BFA in fine arts and an MA in liberal studies and is a former Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar to Greece. She is a Greek Orthodox Christian with an ecumenical spirit.