What, according to Christian understanding, is the meaning of the terms ‘human being’ and ‘life’? (TR)
Answer: Of course, this broad double question cannot be answered adequately here, but we would like to point out several aspects:
1. Human being
How does the Christian faith view the human being? Wherein lies human dignity, according to Christian faith?
Man is created by God, in His image, and man is spirit and body, created for communion with God. In this rests his status and his dignity.
Created by God: Many modern-day people have difficulties with this, because we know tha the human body has evolved from the animal body. But why should it not be part of Gods plan for creation, that the creatures themselves further develop Gods work: He Himself gives them the power to do this. However, the Church states: each and every human soul is created by God. To each human being coming into life God says: I want you. Father and Mother are participating in this act of God’s creation, they represent God’s love. But each and every one of us is God’s creature. We owe him our whole existence.
In the image of God: The Bible clearly states this in the creation story. Of course we ask: in what ways are we similar to God? Through our primacy before all other creatures, which finds physical expression in our upright walking, and especially in our spirit and our soul, our ability to reason and our free will. All this is true, but it is not the most important point. The human being is the only earthly creature that can hear God and can respond to him. We are Gods partners. We alone can thank God for all of his creation and can praise His glory. Man can forget this or not accept it, but he cannot get rid of it. He remains Gods partner.
We have to honor the status and the dignity of human beings, in ourselves and in others, regardless of gender, education, faith or race. We have to look after our health and our reputation and have to fight against any humiliation of mankind. And most of all: We have to pursue our conversation with God, again and again.
The highest exultation of the human race lies in the fact that Gods Son Himself became man. In a much higher sense, Jesus is created in the image of God. But He also wants to raise us up and to complete our similarity with God. We shall be God’s children, sons and daughters of the everlasting Father. And He wants one day to take us up into His glory, body and soul. Already since our Baptism were been carrying this life, this grace of God inside us.
The task is therefore to speak of the good image that God has of us. We must not lose sight of who we are – through the grace of God.
The meaning life for a believing Christian becomes clear when we look at the secret of Jesus resurrection from the dead. Easter, the feast of the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, is the feast of life. In what sense?
Already the Old Testament sees God as the living one, who creates life. This is the hope of the people of Israel at the time of the prophets. God does not condemn mankind to an everlasting death. This hope existed only vaguely at first, later, in times of hardship and persecution it shone brightly: In the end, He will even raise the dead! And so the resurrection of Jesus signifies that these end times have started. God’s Kingdom is emerging, the new creation has begun. For this reason, the story of the creation of the world is read in the night before Easter. This is the first creation. With Jesus resurrection begins the second creation. Our eyes are being pointed towards the future: God will remain the victor, justice and love will conquer injustice and hatred. We ourselves will be resurrected. The whole will be transformed with new life. Everything will arise: including the good someone has done in secret.
On Easter Day, we find a new name for God: God of life, who wakes the dead. Our whole thinking and feeling is directed towards the future: Christ is risen, God will lift us together with Him to eternal life. Not death has the last word, but life. God guarantees it. We can trust in Him when all that we can do ourselves has been exhausted. He who believes this receives a new direction in his life. It is no longer important what we can get from life in the here and now, but what God will make of us. In Him we can trust completely!
Of course, this does not mean that Christians must become removed from the world. We are to use our energy and efforts for one another. But it is a huge difference, whether one makes enormous efforts without any hope of ever improving the world, or whether one can be sure that in the end, everything will conclude in Gods victory! Because we are victors with Christ, we can bear do good with confidence and bear suffering, without losing hope. That is the Easter faith (Adapted from: Winfrid Henze, “Glauben ist schön”. Harsum, 2001. p. 51-53; 89 ff.)