Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

You’re Only Human BOOK CLUB

You're Only Human

We are reading through You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic. The list of demands on our time seems to be never ending. It can leave you feeling a little guilty–like you should always be doing one more thing.
Rather than sharing better time-management tips to squeeze more hours out of the day, Kelly Kapic takes a different approach in You’re Only Human. He offers a better way to make peace with the fact that God didn’t create us to do it all.
Kapic explores the theology behind seeing our human limitations as a gift rather than a deficiency. He lays out a path to holistic living with healthy self-understanding, life-giving relationships, and meaningful contributions to the world. He frees us from confusing our limitations with sin and instead invites us to rest in the joy and relief of knowing that God can use our limitations to foster freedom, joy, growth, and community.
Readers will emerge better equipped to cultivate a life that fosters gratitude, rest, and faithful service to God.  Here are a few quotes from each chapter.

Chapter 1: Have I Done Enough? Facing Our Finitude.

  • Many of us fail to understand that our limitations are a gift from God, and therefore good. This produces in us the burden of trying to be something we are not and cannot be.
  • All of us bounce between the illusion that we are in control and the world’s demonstration that we are not.
  • Whether through tragedy or simply as the result of aging, we all are repeatedly reminded that we are fragile and dependent creatures.
  • We have far less control of the world and even of ourselves than we would like to imagine. Some people respond by living as passive victims, while others aggressively seize as much control as possible.
  • The odd thing is that, even when we run into our inevitable limits, we often hang on to the delusion that if we just work harder, if we simply squeeze tighter, if we become more efficient, we can eventually regain control.
  • Denying our finitude cripples us in ways we don’t realize. It also distorts our view of God and what Christian spirituality should look like.
  • Finitude is an unavoidable aspect of our creaturely existence.
  • I think we have a massive problem, but it is not a time-management issue. It is a theological and pastoral problem.
  • We must rediscover that being dependent creatures is a constructive gift, not a deficiency.
  • We must learn the value and truthfulness of our finitude, eventually getting to the point where we might even praise God for our limits.
  • Each of us must face our limits and weaknesses at some point, whether we want to or not.
  • This book focuses on the limits that are part of God’s original act of making us, which he called “good.”
  • This book aims to help us discover the theological and pastoral significance of embracing the gift of being limited: it is just part of being human.

Chapter 2 Does God Love . . . Me? Crucified . . . but I Still Live

  • In light of the cross we happily see that Christ, not our sin, defines us!
  • God’s goal is not for all of us to end up looking, sounding, and being the same. That confuses sameness with godliness.
  • Your Christian identity needs to be shaped by the fact that God in Christ loved “you,” and gave himself for you—you!
  • God delights in you as you use the particular gifts he has given.
  • God wants you to flourish as the particular you that you are, to enjoy his creation and to enjoy him. That is your calling and privilege as a particular human creature he made and delights in.

Chapter 3: Are The Limits of My Body Bad? Praise God for Mary

  • The Creator God is not embarrassed by the limitations of our bodies and his material world but fully approves of them in and through the Son’s incarnation.
  • The doctrine of the incarnation of God, that the Father sends the Son in the Spirit to become human, includes the teaching that God puts a high value on the particular humanity and finitude of each of us.
  • Eve sought to escape her finitude, whereas Mary embraced it, opening herself up in utter dependence to the Creator Lord.
  • If we are ever going to move from a time-management view of our limitations to a theological one, we need to reconnect creation with re-creation, Genesis 1 with John 1.
  • If we are ashamed of our bodies, of our physicality and finitude, we are in danger of being ashamed of our Creator. But God is not ashamed of our physicality. Why are we ashamed of what he freely loves?

Chapter 4: Why Does Physical Touch Matter?

  • We are designed for communion with each other, and our physicality supplies a medium for that communion.
  • A truly Christian spirituality must always also be a body-affirming spirituality.
  • Our bodies and their inherent limits are a good gift from a good Creator.
  • Our corporate worship time together changes us, and part of the way we are changed is through the way the church treats our physicality.
  • God has made us for physical touch. Physicality isn’t the problem; the perversion and inappropriateness of abuse is the problem.
  • I suspect we would do well to recapture this ancient public practice (foot washing) in our churches with more regular consistency: it is meant to foster humility, grace, physicality, and service, all realities that we urgently need in our individual and corporate lives.

Chapter 5: Is Identity Purely Self-Generated?

  • A healthy Christian view of human limits and differences encourages mutual delight, an awareness of our dependence on others, the integrity of relationships, and contentment.
  • All of us owe our existence not simply to God but to other human creatures.
  • Only when I stop thinking of myself as chiefly an isolated center of consciousness and begin to consider my identity in terms of my relationships to others can I start to see clearly who I am.
  • We are more a product of things outside us than things inside us, and we cannot talk about what we love without referring to other people.
  • Humans are necessarily social creatures with histories.
  • Our identity in Christ isn’t something apart from our cultures and backgrounds but rather his transformation of them as he brings us to himself.
  • We need our neighbors to even know ourselves in relation to God.
  • Knowing one’s self rightly can only occur in the context of being known, of being in relationships, of being loved.
  • It is not our creaturely limits that make us sinful, but rather the absence or deformation of love.
  • Because our identity is found in Christ, the problem with our sin is less that we have broken a rule and more that we are not acting according to who we are.
  • We turn away from sin because it is unfaithfulness to God and it destroys fellowship with him, his people, and even ourselves.

Chapter 6: Have We Misunderstood Humility? Joyful Realism

  • Within a Christian view of the world, humility consists in recognizing that our limitations do not threaten us but liberate us both to worship God and to cherish others.
  • If you don’t see your own finitude as a gift and a way of appreciating the gifts of others, then all you see in others will be their problems and the ways they could be better.
  • True Christian humility does not simply bow down and worship our triune God; it also elevates others and gives us an appropriate assessment of ourselves.
  • Humility is a distinctly biblical virtue because it begins with the knowledge that there is a good Creator Lord and we are the finite creatures he made to live in fellowship with him.
  • Humility consists in a recognition of (and a rejoicing in) the good limitations that God has given us; it is not a regrettable necessity, nor simply a later addition responding to sinful disorders.
  • Simply put, pride ignores God as the giver of one’s mind and skills, while humility gratefully employs these gifts as an expression of worship and as a way to help others.