Being Truly Christian is Being Fully Human
from the Book on Parenting Teenagers
© Dér Stépanos Dingilian, Ph.D.

            Very often we are told that Christianity comforts us because it provides a reward in the life after death, a reward for all the possible glories we may not experience in this world.  At other times, we are told that Christianity, like other religions, gives us a stronger sense of purpose, perseverance, and determination that helps us overcome the difficulties in life.  Although there is truth to these views, there is another foundational and powerful reason why Christianity helps us face and overcome life’s challenges so effectively: Christianity helps us to realize, to embody, and to live the fullness of humanity that God has  intended for us! 

As we study, understand, and lead the Christian Way of Life, we come to realize that we are simultaneously discovering the potential goodness in a human being, while also witnessing the tragedy of how human shortcomings destroy that potential.  In other words, when I say that being Christian enables us to realize the full humanity within us, I mean the ‘humanity’ as God intended it---not the humanity, with its shortcomings, that we see around us and commonly refer to as ‘fallen humanity.’  Let us give several illustrations.

            Here are two important instances from the Bible that reveal how Christianity brings out the fullness in humanity.  First, let us turn to one of the titles that Christ used to refer to himself: “Son of man.”  (See St. Matthew 8:20, 9:6, 10:23, 11:19; St. Mark 2:28, 8:31; St. Luke 6:22, 9:44, etc.)  Notice that ‘Son’ is capitalized.  In the Bible, the term ‘son’ means ‘the example of’ and implies a relationship between two persons, a parent and an offspring. Therefore, ‘Son [capitalized] of man’ means the ‘True or Ultimate Example of humanity.’  In addition, it implies that there is an ‘Ideal or Ultimate Relationship’ between a parent and an offspring.  It is interesting that Christ referred to himself not as ‘Savior,’ ‘Son of God,’ or ‘Lord,’ but rather as the ‘Ultimate example of the human being.’  In other words, Christ was affirming that humanity had been misguided about the true relationship between God and humans, and that he has come to put that relationship in proper perspective.  For this reason, he is the Son of man, the Ideal and Potential of what you and I can be in terms of both, our relationship with God and our relationship with fellow human beings.  St. Paul summarized this perspective in this way: “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. . . . The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” (First Corinthians 15:45, 46)

            Second, it is interesting to note that when the Heavenly Jerusalem is depicted in the Book of Revelation, the relationship between God and humanity is described in this way: “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men.  He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself will be with them.” (Revelation 21:3)  In other words, human beings will live in peace free of sickness and death because humanity will finally discover its true relationship with God.  It is this relationship that Christ revealed to humanity for which he is given the title ‘Savior.’

            The fact that Christian spirituality liberates our humanity and allows it to grow to its God-given potential also applies to our relationship with our teen.  Christian Spirituality helps us see the true priorities in our relationship with our teen, and allows us to communicate our thoughts on issues that truly matter, as opposed to being trapped by superficial matters that diminish our fullness as human beings.

 

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