It happens all the time. Someone says they will do or not do a thing and then the exact opposite happens. Maybe it's something trivial, like being late for an appointment. Maybe it's something bigger, like running into someone with your automobile and causing a lot of damage. But, in any case, the excuse I hear all the time is something like, "Hey, I'm only human. Nobody's perfect."
Yep. I'd say that sums it up nicely. It's the ultimate excuse.
So, I have to ponder that. Why would we think that it's expected that we will fail from time to time? Well... Because it is self-evidently true. Man is limited in his perception, limited in his knowledge, limited in his physical strength and ultimately limited in his ability to do everything right. We can extend perception and strength with technology, but that doesn't actually change what we are. We remain -- only human.
Not to mention, much of the time we don't even agree about what is right. We can agree on the big things of course. You shouldn't steal, cheat, lie, murder, go back on your word, etc. And then we turn around and find people doing all those things on a regular basis. However, even if someone thinks it's OK to steal he will have to admit he is not a perfect thief. He probably will get caught at some point and have to go to prison. But, hey, we're only human, right?
So, this only human thing leads to all sorts of other things. Once we recognize that people don't always do what is good (or even agree on what is good), we have to set up government to try and prevent that human-ness from causing too many problems. Ahhh, there's the rub. Who is going to run the government? You have to put only humans in charge and we know that humans have a tendency to make mistakes or become corrupt. YIKES! Now what are we going to do?
Well, how about some religion? Yeah, that's the ticket! Let's make sure everybody has a good set of moral principles, and then make sure they follow those principles by encouraging them with a promise of a better existence, eternal rewards, special knowledge, or by scaring them with eternal punishment. Unfortunately, religion led by men doesn't seem to work much better than government by men. Why should it? We're only human and the humans running the religion are going to have the same weaknesses and failings as the people they are trying to instruct. YIKES! Now what are we going to do?
Uhhh. Maybe the problem is politics and religion. What we need is some objective thing-a-majigy that isn't dependent on any particular person. OK! So we can use "science" then! Yeee-hah! It's objective truth; it's scientific; can't argue about the truth, ya know. Except that all of science depends on the ability of human perception and reasoning. Given the self-evident fact that humans are limited and imperfect, just saying that we will be scientific doesn't really solve the problem. Since our science is based on limited human perceptions and understanding then it should come as no surprise that scientitsts occaisionally alter their theories to take into account new information. What is considered objective truth today probably won't be at some point in the future. In any case, it doesn't make man any more perfect than he is. Nothing has really changed in man's nature no matter how good we get at understanding and manipulating physical stuff. Technology makes life longer, safer, or more fun, but doesn't solve that nagging problem of being only human.
Ahh so! What we need is genetics! Let's change plants, animals, and humans by re-programming the DNA. Except that requires imperfect humans to make choices about how things should get reprogrammed. Am I the only one that sees a wee-bit of a problem here?
I've looked at a lot of political philosophies, religions and ideologies over the years and as far as I can tell they all have the same problem. They want me to be perfect. Well, I have to just tell them, "Hey, I'm only human." How can an imperfect human make himself perfect? I say, he can't.
This is where the Gospel of Jesus Christ comes in. There is a great deal of misunderstanding about what the Gospel really means. Because a religion has been built around that message, an awful lot of people assume that the religion and the message are one and the same. They are not.
The message of the Gospel says that man, being only human, can never lift himself up from the condition he is in. Man can make some things better, but ultimately the nature of man does not change and you end up with the same problems of injustice, failure, and so on.
The only possible solution for being only human is to have something greater than man alter man's nature. That's what "Christianity" is really about. It is about the transformation of man's nature by the implant of a spirit that is greater than man himself. We call that "grace" - a gift of something that man cannot achieve by himself. And despite what you may have heard, that grace is not simply "forgiveness for sins." That grace is the power of transformation that makes it possible for man to be something more than only human. The rest of the stuff - forgiveness, good works, peace of mind, deeper understanding, "going to heaven," etc. -- is the result of that transformation. Doing all those other things without the transformation of man's nature doesn't get one step further to the truth, doesn't buy you a ticket to heaven, or make all that much of a difference in man's physical existence. Jesus warned, "The poor you will have with you always," and, "In this world you will have tribulation." But he also offers hope that we can be "born again." Not reborn in a physical sense, but born of a new spirit from above. To act on the basis of the belief that God will work that transformation is what we call "faith." The process of that transformation taking place is what we call "salvation."
This is the alternative given to man by God. You can go on being only human with all of the associated limitations and problems, or, you can seek out something greater than man, cling to that, with the promise and hope of transformation. Of course, if a person just stoically accepts the human condition, or doesn't think a spiritual transformation is even possible, he will never seek out that change. But if a man wants things to be better than they are, that man must seek something beyond himself. In the end, that transformation from above is the only possible way out of being only human.