"I'm only human!"
I wonder how many times you have either said that phrase yourself or someone has said it to you. And I wonder what the context behind it was. I would hazard a guess that you have used it, or it has been used to you, at times when you (or someone else) have messed up: times when you've said, done or thought something that was clearly wrong or led to hurt.
I shout at my wife: "I'm only human!"
She shouts back at me: "She's only human!"
I'm wronged by a friend: "You're only human!"
But what if being human was viewed in another way? [And at this point I must confess that in a previous blog post - although who knows quite when - I've looked at this topic before.] Because what if being human, instead of being seen as an excuse by which we can justify or legitimise the things we do wrong, was actually the motivation by which we aspire to things we never dreamed possible?
At Christmas we remember that God Himself became human - fully human and fully divine, not some 50-50 fusion of the two. And so as we look at Jesus, 100% human, we see what true humanity looks like. And as we do this we therefore see that to be human is not something that relates to the worst in us but the best: because it is to be like the fully human yet fully divine Christ that Paul challenges us to become when he writes in Ephesians that we are to be "imitators of God" and in 1 Corinthians that we should "follow my [Paul's] example, as I follow the example of Christ."
Does this mean that we will be perfect in this life time? Some would say so, although I don't agree. But it does mean that by and in the power of the Holy Spirit that we should be on a trajectory to Christ-likeness: that, to quote Paul again, we should be training ourselves to be godly (1 Timothy 4:7).
When I read that this morning I was reminded that the calling of every Christ-follower is to become more like Jesus as we train ourselves to be godly. And I am certain of this: that as we do so we will find ourselves re-understanding what it is to be fully human and recognising that falling from this ideal (which we all have and do) is actually an example of us becoming less human.
As we move through this advent I hope and pray that I will remember that as bad as I have been (or will be in the future) that as we prepare to remember and celebrate Jesus' first coming we see in Him humanity at its very best, an example for us to aspire to, and the hope of what will one day be completed in us when He returns.