Human nature is one of the most powerful apologetics for the veracity of the Christian faith. What else can explain so well the glory and mess that is humanity, but that man was made perfect in God’s image, a glorious creature capable of the most exquisite heights, who then rebelled and fell into a self-centered morass that brings him lower than the animals. Remember this fundamental fact of human existence: something must explain the conundrum of human nature, or explain it away. As I never tire of telling my children, and anyone else who will listen, if people reject the Christian explanation of things, they must offer an alternative explanation. If they don’t or refuse, they are not to be taken seriously.

For the Christian explanation, no one captures the enigma of the human condition better than the 17th century mathematician, physicist, and Christian apologist Blaise Pascal:

What kind of freak is man? What a novelty he is, how absurd he is, how chaotic and what a mass of contradictions, and yet what a prodigy! He is judge of all things, yet a feeble worm. He is repository of truth, and yet sinks into such doubt and error. He is the glory and the scum of the universe!

I was reminded of the power of his observation the other day when I heard out my bathroom window the cutest little voice yelling, “Mommy, Mommy! Watch me!” Children are so eager to be recognized and affirmed; they know they have something great about them that deserves to be recognized. I imagine little minds when they do this thinking, “I can do things!” No doubt adding, “And I’m pretty good at it too!” Man made in God’s image is without a doubt “the glory” Pascal affirms.

We also know “the self” can become this little person’s greatest enemy if not tamed and curbed. Mommy watch me! is cute in a child, but Mommy watch me! gets tiring and annoying in an adult. We all know people who go through life making it all about them, whose conversations are shot through with I, me, mine, who don’t know how to listen, or seem to care only about themselves. But these are only the most egregious examples. I love the more subtle ones, and specifically the one that lives in my own heart.

The beauty and genius of Christianity is that it so well explains the massive yet subtle tension that lives within each of us, at the center of our being, Pascal’s “mass of contradictions.” What I’ve learned about myself as I’ve grown older is how sneaky and nuanced the self, mine, can be at making it all about, Mommy, Mommy! Look at Me! I’m better able now to realize I’m doing it and catch myself, but it’s clear that the natural me, the sinful me, always wants to make it about me. Christianity, however, is unique among the world’s religions in that “me” is not unimportant or bad in and of itself. That’s why, Mommy, Mommy! Look at Me! isn’t always bad in children or adults, but it does required Godly wisdom to tell the difference, and we never achieve the perfect balance in a fallen world in a fallen body among fallen people.

This challenge of the self is one of the reasons we “freaks” were given God’s revelation which tells us that love is the ultimate telos of existence, it’s most powerful and effective end of a flourishing life. Love, though, is a tricky thing if not grounded in a biblical understanding of our being created good, fallen into sin and rebellion, and our redemption in Christ. When the Apostle John wrote that “God is love,” it was in the context of God sending his Son to reveal that love to us in the form of sacrificial justice. In other words, we don’t love because of, we love in spite of. So what the Lord said through Moses and reiterated by Christ now makes sense: love your neighbor as yourself. We don’t love others, or ourselves, because they or we are so doggone lovable! We love because we are obligated to love. Only God himself in Christ can show us how to make Mommy, Mommy! Look at me! a beautiful thing.


Share This