Successfully Failing and the Humanness of God

  1. Did God make man in his own image?
  2. Or did man make God in his own image?

It depends on who you ask, right?

Certainly, both questions, and any possible answers, come to us ultimately from man. For we collectively cannot ask God directly; but only the people of God. And even the Bible, despite the ancience* and tradition, is still a book written by men, about God. Is it inspired? Divine? The Bible says so. And for those who have it, the Holy Spirit can bear witness.

To that end, one might ask, is God’s very existence in the hearts of men, in any way dependent first upon humanity?

Or to put it slightly differently, if I were the only person on the planet, and it had always been that way, would I be able to write the Bible, based on the universal and spiritual revelation I would naturally receive—just by being alive and having the Spirit?

If I really were alone here, I wonder if my understanding of the Creator God might be different; based maybe more on my experience with fundamental elements like water, air, earth, fire and electricity?

(I have to pause here to note that CS Lewis—the famous Christian theologian—once said that if he were not a Christian, he would be a Zoroastrian. And that faith system places a high value on water, air, earth and fire.)

Anyway, this all makes me wonder if any Christian theological tenets might have inadvertently resulted from heavy human influence over the course of thousands of years. And if I am honest, I desire to inquire: How much of my theology can I reasonably guess, is truly and only inspired by the Holy Spirit…or less ideally so, by humans? (hopefully, all of the former and none of the later)

Of course, we could debate the questions above for centuries and still not all agree. Unfortunately, there is no universal answer to whether God came first, or man. (By universal, I mean in the way that nearly 100% of the people on the planet would agree that the sky is blue.)


But let us assume for a minute that the Bible is correct, that God made man in his own image. (speaking of the God of the Bible, of course)

That’s because, yesterday, I heard an acquaintance say:

If we are made in the image of God, then to become more like God, one must become more human.

What a curious thought. And one I would like to explore.

So, if man is made in the image of God, then how do we define image?

A physical image? Emotional? Spiritual? Intellectual? All of these?

Of course, we don’t really know. Jesus said he came to show us the Father; and yet he most likely had 10 fingers and 10 toes. But does the Father really look like us? Maybe. Some might say probably. And does the Father have a personality? Feelings? How “human” is the Father then?

We should also ask ourselves, what do we mean by becoming more human?

The Bible tells us that God is without sin, and that humans are not. Therefore, one line of reasoning might be to say that to become more human means to become more sinful; since that is our natural nature.

However, I find it hard to conceive of the idea that as we become more sinful, we become more like God. That really makes very little sense.

But maybe one could say that we need to instead embrace our humanness, in light of first being redeemed. (When I say redeemed, I mean born-again.) Remember, even redeemed people are sinful, but they just repent a lot.

So maybe there is value for a redeemed person, to try to get in touch with their own humanity. At least for perfectionists like me.


Alexander Pope said, “To err is human; to forgive is divine.”

I might only alter that slightly to say, “To err is human; to not is divine.”

We people are clearly not divine, so we should not in any way be reluctant to fail. Being human does not mean we only fail, but failure is part of what we do as humans. It is what we should expect of ourselves, at least sometimes. When we fail, we just keep getting up and going on. We repent if necessary, and we never quit trying. But in so doing, it’s not that we are “trying” to be perfect. Rather we are “trying” to live. And failing and succeeding are just parts of living.

One might even say that “failure” and “success” are only really terms we apply to ourselves. For when a little child draws a picture, they rarely deem it to be a success or a failure. Instead, it is their creation—whether “good” or “bad” by anyone’s estimation. Therefore, a perfectionist might benefit from rearranging his or her personal definition of “failure.”


I heard someone once say:

If you are fearful, then do something each day that you are afraid of. At least one thing.

I guess that is advised to somehow engender courage. I am not sure if I am a fearful person. Even so, I thought a lot about this suggestion and I even kind of tried it. But somehow it didn’t do much for me. So I went back to the drawing board.

See, I am not sure about fear, but I do know that I tend toward perfectionism.

And so I thought, what if a different phrase better describes me?: Fear of failure. Or even fear of what I consider to be a failure.

Then I had an idea that instead of doing something each day that makes me afraid, what if I do something each day that makes me fail? That way, I could get used to it and possibly be more comfortable with it. And in so doing, maybe “fear of failure” would lose any hold it might have on me.

That’s kind of an odd thought:  Trying to fail at least once a day?

I mean how do you even start out? Maybe go yell at your boss? Or throw your hair dryer in the bathtub? Hit your car with a hammer?

What if it could be more general, like intentionally making a bad decision? (As in choosing to eat ice cream for breakfast.) Or just doing something, even if you are not sure whether it’s a good or bad idea. Like deciding to build your own bicycle.

Possibly it could mean being more willing to make mistakes, and even experimentally trying them when one is identified. Like purposely leaving the garage door open when going to work.

Whether I can actually successfully start failing, (or even need to), is maybe less of the issue. Maybe it’s sufficient to give myself permission to fail. And then when I do feel like I fail, to be thankful that I am human, instead of instantly condemning myself for my failure, and for not being perfect as God is.

Now, if my failure is also sinful, I can always repent—as I normally do. Which is an added bonus for one who is redeemed; for in doing so, the spiritual palate is cleansed. And yet, there is the still that nagging disappointment for needing to repent in the first place. A reminder that I am not perfect. Sigh.

Well, if I end up being able to successfully fail and then to overcome perfectionism, there is still one thing, at which I never want to fail…and that is repentance.


*“Ancience” is new spelling and pronunciation of the noun “ancientness.”

© 2019, Alignment Life

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