(408) 779-0697 | info@westhills.org

You're Only Human Study Guide 1: Why Your Human Limits are a Good Thing

Community Group Study Guide — You’re Only Human Week 1 Why Your Human Limits Are A Good Thing
Colossians 1:15-20

Study Information:
There is an area of theology that you interact with every day but probably have not given much thought of:  human finitude. Everyday you bump up against the limits of being human and that is good news. We all experience being tired, hungry, work not being done, we cannot be in more than one place at a time and we experience emotional and physical exhaustion. These are everyday occurrences for us and event though they’re impacted by the presence of sin in the world, these limits existed before sin’s presence and that points to their inherent goodness. Why would God create human beings in his image, but make us limited and why is that good news? That question is what will drive this summer teaching series as we explore what it means to be “only human.”

How do you think about your limits? There are some of us who encounter our human limits and think that we just need to push through and limits are made to be broken so you work until 2am or put in effort to make your body faster, stronger or more emotionally resilient. Others may feel like limits only exist to be restrictive and therefore are bad news and you avoid them for that reason. Still some of us face limits and respond by giving up; work is too tough or relationships are too hard, so why try? There is wisdom in pushing through discomfort to grow and endure, but at the end of the day we all hit a wall somewhere. Your body can only do so much.

This first study guide will examine God’s infinitude (that he is without any boundaries or limits) and how God thinks about the physical world and human finitude. In future study guides we will explore questions that come from our finitude like “Does God actually love me?”, “Am I doing enough?”, and “Why doesn’t God just instantly change me?”

To look at God’s infinitude and his response to humanity’s limits we will examine Colossians 1:15-20.

God Is Infinite
Colossians 1:15-17

God is not like us. There is a tendency to want to make God like a better version of ourselves, but he is categorically different than us. An attribute is something true of God that we know through his words or his actions. God shares some of his attributes with humanity since we are created in his image; attributes like his wisdom, love and goodness. However, there are many attributes that God does not share with humanity, attributes like his eternality, omniscience (all knowing), omnipresence (all present) and omnipotence (all powerful). God is finite which means that God is not bound by anything and is the only being in the universe without limit.

Paul wrote to the Colossian church about the person and work of Jesus and in these verses we see how God’s infinitude meets human limits and the beauty of how God uses that to redeem and restore creation.

Notice three things in Colossians 1:15-17.
First, God revealed his limitlessness through Jesus. Paul wrote that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. In Christ we see the divine attributes of God displayed through things like his miraculous healings which communicate his infinite power and how Jesus knew what people were thinking before they spoke and Jesus communicated his eternality with saying things like “before Abraham was, ‘I Am.’” God’s limitless nature is hard to see apart from looking at Christ and reading the Bible. We’re tempted to make God like us, but Jesus revealed to us in a unique way that God is qualitatively different.

Second, God is the Creator and EVERYTHING else is creation. We can break down everything in the universe into two categories: God and everything else. Theologians call this the creator/creature distinction. God is uncreated and self-existent and not dependent on anyone or anything. To be a creature is to depend on God which is the next thing we notice.

Finally, our limitless God holds all things together. God never feels stress or has to exert effort in his use of power. He is not strained or at risk of breaking.

The mystery of Colossians 1 is that God is infinite, eternal, uncreated, incomprehensible, and has all presence, power and knowledge and at the same time God the Son joined himself to a human body and human nature. Why? Because our humanity was in need of redemption from sin and to be truly and fully human is a good thing.

You’re Only Human
Colossians 1:18-20

Jesus did not just sympathize with humanity, God the Son took on real human nature and was a particular human being in the 1st century, in Israel, as a Jewish man born of Mary and he was like us in every way but without sin. God did not see humanity as a taint or a mistake but something good and beautiful and since God the Son took on human nature that means to be human cannot be a sin. If we look back to the garden of Eden we can read about how God created humanity with beauty and goodness and yet Adam and Eve were limited. God gave them boundaries like “do not eat from that tree,” he created them with a need to work, eat and sleep and all of that was “very good.” If experiencing human limits was a sin then God the Son would never have entered the womb of Mary. This is good news because God is not embarrassed by his creation but out of love he desired to redeem it (Colossians 1:20).

So why human limits? God gave us human limits so we would experience a need for him everyday. What if God made you in such a way that you could not get it everything done and it was not because you’re a slacker but so that everyday you end the day realizing you’re not God? What if you get tired and need to sleep because that is a reminder for you that God never sleeps and that he is in control and worthy of our trust? These are all things that we struggle with because our culture pressure on us to be more and do more but the scripture invites us to live in dependent relationship with our creator because we’re “only human.” Throughout this series remember that every time you bump up against one of your limits you’re reminded of your limitless God.

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?

Discussion Questions:

What are some ways people experience their everyday human limits that do not come from the presence of sin? An example would be the need to sleep.

What does it mean for God to be “infinite?”

Read Colossians 1:15-20. What are some ways Paul highlights the infinite nature of God in this passage? What does it say about Jesus humanity and what does that teach us about God’s view of his creation?

How do you experience your finitude and how does that deepen your dependence on God?