Being or Becoming?
Most of you reading this article would consider yourself a human being. That is the way we commonly refer to ourselves. Webster defines human as, “belonging to or typical of mankind and being as: the state or fact of living.” So, if we are living and part of mankind, we are human beings, according to Webster. This definition implies a state of arrival into the race of man.
But scripture refers to our time on earth not as an arrival but a journey. We are called pilgrims and sojourners. “Being” connotes a state of completion, but are we complete? If not, would it not be better to consider ourselves “becomings” rather than “beings?” Herman Bavinck reminds us, “The contrast between being and becoming marks the difference between the Creator and the creature. Every creature is continually becoming. It is changeable, constantly striving, seeks rest and satisfaction and finds it in God, and in Him alone for only He is a pure being and no becoming. Therefore, in scripture God is often called the Rock.”
The very concept of sanctification is the process of becoming holy or more like God, a process that is continual throughout our earthly journey. Many godly characters in the Bible are noted for their “becoming.” Abraham “becoming” a man of faith. Job, a righteous man in Job 1, finally sees God in Job 42, an example of “becoming.” Moses “becoming” humble and a leader. Paul “becoming” a believer. All of these men and many others were human beings in the terminology of man, but all were “becomings” in their nature, spiritual growth and mind of God.
Just as no book, other than God’s word, is the final word, no being, outside of God, is the final knowing. Because we live in a “not yet” state, “not yet” fully perfected or fully glorified. When we are converted and obey, our sins are washed away yet we live in this “not yet” world of sin and death. We are not home yet. We are held in an imperfect world.
As long as this earth is our home, we have not yet reached our ultimate state of being. Paul looked forward to this ultimate state when he wrote “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). He longed for the perfect “being” yet realized he was still “becoming.”
“I AM who I AM” sums up who God is and who we are not (Exodus 3:14). It is an affirmation of His eternalness and His power over time and space — that He is unchanging (immutable) and complete in every way. Those words describe no other but God, not you or me or any man. Each of us are unique and “wonderfully made” but we are not “I AM” because we are the created. God is the I AM because He is the Creator. He is the complete and perfect being.
The word “being” is a form of the verb “to be” which can be expressed as “I am” and is often used in the expression “I am … something.” For instance, you might say “I am strong.” Saying “I am strong” creates a definition or description of what or how you are. But if you say, “I am becoming (or getting) stronger,” you are now placing yourself somewhere between strong and weak. “Becoming” places you on a path taking you from weak and heading towards strong. It implies change and transitioning and with a positive direction it implies growth. To be (being) is static. To become (becoming) is dynamic.
We have a heavenly target and our heading set, but we still live in a temporal setting, a “not yet” world and for that reason we are “becomings”. We are always “becoming,” either for better or worse. We are always changing, for better or worse. When we walk away from God, we are becoming worse. When drawing near to God we are becoming better, but we are always “becoming.” Remaining stationary is never an option only an illusion. We need to be a “human becoming” and not just a “human being.”
Life, at any age, is a journey, which means we should be moving, growing and “becoming” as we walk the walk. Our lives are to be more than simply surviving or being. Life is to be more than reaching what we or others think is an acceptable plateau. Life is about growing and becoming more sanctified and holy each day. Just existing places us in a state of “being.” But to “become” we must do more than simply exist. To become who God wants us to be, we have to transcend and grow beyond who we are at the moment.
To “become” means to grow, to change and to transform. Paul urges us to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). When we are becoming, we are in motion, we are moving along a path, we are realizing our potential as God’s creation. We’re on the way to flourishing as never before.
To truly live, flourish and serve, we need to look and move above ourselves and toward God. Only then can we realize the “becoming” we must do to become the “being” that can enter heavens portals. Life must be about more that existing or surviving; it must be about “becoming” what God created us to be. How is your “becoming”?