If there’s a term our culture has little appreciation for, it’s “limitations.” But that’s exactly what makes Kelly Kapic’s newest book You’re Only Human worth reading.
Intentionally or implicitly these days, people are told to ignore their physical, interpersonal, and spiritual limits. Even in Christian circles, it’s common to constantly feel exhausted or guilty, as if we haven’t done enough for God and His Kingdom. Dr. Kelly Kapic, a professor of theology at Covenant College, provides a compelling counter-thesis:
“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.”
Human limitation is different from the idea of “sin” or even “fallenness.” As a feature of time and space, “limitations” are a built-in aspect of God’s design. We need things like food and rest. We were not created to do everything by ourselves, even something as simple as finding our own individual identities. Ultimately, we are dependent, and our dependency is meant to draw us closer to the God who created us.
Recently, Dr. Kapic joined my colleague Kasey Leander for a special episode of the BreakPoint podcast. Their conversation is an especially relevant counter to dangerous assumptions that are shaping our world.
One of these assumptions has to do with physicality. Seized by what some have called a “gnostic impulse,” much of modern life downplays physical limitations. Digital technology tells us we don’t need to “go” anywhere to “be” with people. We sexualize everything, and in the process destroy the possibility of normal, everyday physical touch. The most extreme example of this gnostic impulse is transgender ideology, which tells people they can only and finally feel fulfilled outside the physical reality of biology.
In God’s original design, the physical world was created “good.” We flourish best, not when we “transcend” our God-given physical limitations, but when we live in accordance with them. This doesn’t mean everything is perfect: Some of our limitations, of course, actually are caused by the fall. However, even in a world infected by evil, Christians have hope in a renewed, physical creation. If God loves our bodies, we should too.
Kapic also highlights the idea of faithfulness in the Christian life. Too often, we’re driven by a desire to do everything, ignoring our limited resources of time and energy. “It was Ben Franklin who said time is money,” he tells us, “and as Christians, we have baptized that.”
It makes me wonder what Jesus would make of modern busyness. The Son of God never shied away from challenges or difficulty … yet he spent an inordinate amount of time simply praying and resting. As the Agent of creation and the second Adam, Christ set the standard for a life well-lived.
A third takeaway from You’re Only Human. has to do with the Church, the Bride of Christ:
“God extends His love, provision, and values through the people who make up his church. His offer to be a refuge and strength frequently comes through his church. When he wants to bring a word of grace, a safe hug, a warm meal, it often comes through his church. Even when the church cannot do everything itself, it keeps seeking to promote the common good.”
The Christian walk demands community and our collective limitations also point at something significant about our human limitations. Kapic continues:
“The central mission of the church is to point people continually to the Messiah: he alone fully reveals the love of the Father and pours out his Spirit on us. The goal of all our good efforts is to draw people to the embrace of the triune God, not to serve as a replacement for him. All the gifts we exercise must ultimately point back to the true Giver.”
This is why Christians can read the news without losing hope. We cannot heal or restore our broken world, but Christ can and will. In that respect, our limitation isn’t weakness. It makes us rely on the only true Source of strength.
Publication date: March 22, 2022
Photo courtesy: Elijah Hiett/Unsplash
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.
John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.