What do we do with the years that we have been given? Do we live with a purpose and in harmony with others?
People nowadays live much longer than in previous generations, especially people in the so-called developed world. In itself, that’s good, of course. But long life, if it’s just more years, is not always a blessing. It’s one thing to live a long time, but what about the quality of life itself? Sometimes doctors perform all kinds of heroic actions to artificially keep a person alive, even if the person has very little, if any, quality of life left.
Ethical people understand that quality of life is not restricted to an acceptable level of physical wellbeing; it has a wider application. What do we do with the years that we have been given? Do we live with a purpose and in harmony with others? Do we live in satisfying relationships with fellow human beings and, most of all, with our Creator? These are important questions for all who have been given the gift of life.
How did life originate? Some people point to a godless evolutionary unfolding of human existence. Others argue for a divine guiding role in the slow process of millions of years during which simple forms of life made their appearance and, subsequently, developed into more complex organisms, including humans. This theory, however, creates more questions than it answers. (And nothing in the Bible even hints that God used evolution to create humanity). Meanwhile, several renowned scholars have in recent years convincingly argued that this theory is in a deep crisis. But even the staunchest supporters of evolutionary thinking must admit that life remains as great a mystery as ever.
Those who believe in God as the Creator of this world and of all the universe do not have all the answers, either. But the Creationist approach is far more logical and coherent than the improbable theory that human life resulted from chance.
What is true for the mystery of life in general is also true for each human life. Although we possess a lot of scientific knowledge about the processes involved in the conception and growth of human life, each new parent who holds a newborn child in his or her arms knows intuitively that this new life is nothing less than a miracle. It is a fundamental Christian conviction that life—and human life in a very special sense—is sacred.
In Psalm 139, David describes the miracle of human life and the magnificent design of the human body. Verses 13, 14 say: “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (NIV). The psalmist’s conviction concerning God’s ability to create does not reduce the sense of awe and mystery about life.
According to The Interpreter’s Bible, some scholars propose that Psalm 139:15 is possibly “a reflection of the idea that the human fetus was made by God elsewhere before being introduced into the womb.”1It is easy to get caught up in such idle speculation and overlook the larger purpose of the Psalm: to serve as a testimony to God’s omniscience. God was aware of us and had plans for us even before the physical elements of our existence had come together in the unique combinations that make us who we are.
We also can consider this song about God’s awareness of us as a poetic recognition of the fact that our physicality and spirituality are intertwined. Thus, we are not spirits that come down from some mysterious realm and plant ourselves in physical bodies. Our physical bodies are us, and we need to respect them as God’s house.
Clearly, the Bible regards God’s Creatorship as self-evident. God’s greatness and goodness are proven by the things He has made and the way He has made them. The evidence includes our own bodies. As such, our own existence can serve to remind us of God, His love for us, and His plans for our destiny.2