What is man?

Dear Friends,

A riddle:

What contains enough water to fill a 10 gallon barrel?
Enough fat for 7 bars of soap?
Enough carbon for 7000 pencils?
Enough phosphorous for 2,300 match heads?
Enough iron for a medium sized nail?

The answer, of course, is you! By the end of your life you will have spent 3½ years eating, you’ll have shed 19kg of dead skin and you’ll have grown two yards of nasal hair.

All of that is an accurate description of you, but it’s not an adequate one, is it? We are more than bags of chemicals; we matter more than that.

Picasso once said to a friend,

“Nobody has any real importance to me. As far as I’m concerned, other people are like these little grains of dust floating in the sunlight. It takes only a push of the broom and out they go.”

I’m not sure what his friend then made of their friendship! People matter more than that, too.

I read a heart-breaking account about a lady who outlived her loved ones and lost her zeal for life. Shortly before she died – and she died alone – she wrote,

“Old age is a curse. I feel like a half dried out rug – with all its purpose rung out”.

It’s so sad to read that – she needed to know that she still mattered very much indeed.

In Psalm 8, David asks the question ‘What is man?’ On the face of it the answer is ‘Not much, really.’ As he looked up at the night sky – the heavens, the moon, the stars in all their vast array – he wondered ‘What is man, that you are mindful him?’ It’s a good question. There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on all the beaches all over the world. In the context of a universe this mend-bendingly vast, it wouldn’t be surprising if Picasso was right – nobody has any real importance, least of all to a God who is big enough to have created it all. People think ‘Why should I bother with God?’ but a much better question is ‘Why would a God this big bother with me?

But the Bible says He does. David’s question is ‘What is man?’ And his answer is that man is royal. God has crowned mankind with glory and honour – He has given us a position of great privilege and responsibility in His world. Not that we have worn that crown very well – in fact we’ve made a right royal mess of it. Only one man – Jesus Christ— has ever worn that crown of honour in the way God intended it:

We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
Hebrews 2:9

Francis Schaeffer used to say ‘There are no little people’. People matter. But we’ll only really live that out when we’re delighting in the truth that God delights in us. People matter because people matter to God.

With love in Christ,

Joe Dent
Rector