The not-so-naked ape

Psalm 8

“What is mankind…?” (verse 4)

What are we? It all depends on your point of view. Biologists classify humans as primates, closely related (genetically, anatomically and physiologically) to chimpanzees and gorillas. This viewpoint has many practical uses: it enables us to discover how our bodies work by studying other mammals, with countless spin-offs for medicine and psychology. But it also has its limitations. Although we are animals, we are not just animals – not even just intelligent animals. We are also spiritual beings with a capacity to know God.

“What is mankind that You are mindful of them,                                                                      human beings that You care for them?”

Instinctively, we set ourselves at the centre of the universe – even though our rational minds know that we are just one species, inhabiting a tiny planet that is orbiting an ordinary star somewhere near the periphery of a very ordinary galaxy. Why should we be special? More to the point, why should a God great enough to create an entire universe be interested in such small and insignificant creatures as us?

“You crowned them with glory and honour.” (verse 5)

Rather than exercise His sovereignty directly, God has chosen to delegate the management of this planet to its inhabitants. So He created Man to rule the rest of the world – as His deputy and representative (Genesis 1:26). He is a God who actually prefers to work through the weak and the powerless (I Corinthians 1:27-29), who not only accepts the worship of young children (Matthew 21:15) but uses it to “silence the foe and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2).

In God’s eyes, then, there is no such thing as an ‘ordinary’ person. Every member of the human race is special; every individual should therefore be treated with respect. We are meant to be kings and queens!

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