By Rob Furlong
What is it that makes us human?
The human body consists of 206 bones (babies are born with anywhere between 270-350!) and 600 muscles.
Your heart will beat 3000 trillion times in an average lifetime, and pump 36,400 litres of blood per day 19,200 kilometres around your body!
Your entire body contains 100 trillion cells, the central nervous system is composed of more than 100 billion neurons and every hair on your body is equipped with a tiny muscle that can make it stand upright.
And consider the retina of your eye. It has what are called "rods" and "cones" which send signals to the brain where they are processed into what we see. 120 million rods deal with dim light compared to a mere 6 million cones for bright light.
Little wonder King David eloquently said that, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
But is this what makes us human?
If you have ever seen the film Bi-Centennial Man, you will know that the makers of the movie have set out to answer this question.
The central character, Andrew, begins life as a robot but through a quirk of fate, is given the ability to think for himself. The movie then recounts his journey over two hundred years of becoming more and more "human".
Technology enables him to be given skin, artificial organs, a nervous system and ultimately blood.
Andrew's quest becomes one where he seeks for society to recognize him for what he believes he is – truly human.
Each time I have watched this film, I have been left with the same reaction – the film blurs the lines of what true humanity is.
Andrew owes his ability to think for himself – a distinctly human characteristic - to a quirk of fate.
His reasoning powers were never a part of his designers' original purpose for him.
Ultimately, Andrew becomes a human who is simply made in the image of other humans.
What then, makes us human?
Genesis 1:26 & 27 tells us that we have been made in the image of God.
This is a much debated and discussed concept, and one aspect of the meaning of this phrase is to understand that we have been given the capacity to think and to relate to God and other people.
What is abundantly clear is that our humanity is no accident or quirk of fate.
We are this way because our Maker intended it so.
Over the past few months we have focused on the processing of loss in our lives – whether we have experienced the grief of the death of a person we love, a relationship or some other significant loss.
A key part of the processing of loss, as we have seen, is to appreciate how intimately bound up our losses are with relationships.
We may be grieving the loss of a person, or at an even deeper level, a sense of loss in our relationship with God.
Read the book of Job carefully and you will soon discover how deeply he expressed his sense of loss of relationship with God, even to the point where he felt betrayed by Him!
Despite the pain and hurt that is associated with loss, we can actually be thankful for it.
To feel the grief, anger and confusion of loss is to also acknowledge that you are human and the loss of the relationship shows the person truly meant something to you.
How utterly tragic is the person who never grieves over the loss of anyone or anything.
God made us with an enormous capacity for relationship with Him and with people and we experience the exhilaration of loving and being loved as well as the pain that is often associated with that.
For it is in our pain that we are driven into the loving arms of the One Who made us with purpose for our lives!•