For many who feel they can’t relate to God, there’s wonderful biblical encouragement which, I think, we don’t hear often enough.
For others, who talk much about a relationship with Jesus, I think they’ve missed the full impact of what that means. After four decades as a Christian, I know I certainly did.
It’s almost as if, had it not been for sin, man has no reason to relate to God. Jesus is only good for his blood and gig on the cross; so, other than getting people to heaven when they die, there’s little need to follow him.
At the start of this series, we saw that a soul is a whole person, the self, the essence of personhood and being. God is also a Soul, a Person.
“Soul” conveys a totality of spiritual and physical, visible and invisible components. The Greek word psuche is variously translated as life, self, heart, mind, soul, and person. Even when we shed our mortal bodies at physical death, Scripture indicates that the soul gains some type of spiritual body. “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1Cor. 15:44)
For example, those in the afterlife are described as wearing clothes, although this could be a figure of speech. Nevertheless, they do speak and act, which indicates more than a floating, disembodied state of existence or merely telepathic interactions. The resurrection at the end of this age definitely reunites us with recognizable, yet better, physical bodies.
My point is that physical things always relate to spiritual things; and human souls are a microcosm of the unavoidable link between physical and spiritual, human and divine.
Why is this important? Because even in a corrupted state, human beings have more in common with God than does anything else in the physical creation, maybe in the entire creation. The hope He offers to the world is that this can be strengthened and deepened, fully restored to rightness, optimized for maximum health and well-being.
The new life that Scripture describes is completely thorough because it saves more than just the inner spiritual man and more than just the outer physical man. Salvation is a package that, by God’s wisdom and grace, addresses every aspect of the person, the entire self, the soul. The whole life transforms—in both its earthly context and its future context. No piece of the person (other than corruption itself) is left behind.
God designed you and I to live as healthy, cohesive beings. Brokenness is contrary to that design. At the risk of making this post much too long, the Scriptures below show the overlap between the elements of personhood, and the link between these and God’s own Personhood. Since these are a mere fraction of what God has to say about it, how did I (and so many others) miss it before?
“And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Rom. 8:27)
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (Jhn. 16:13)
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mat. 11:29)
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart [psuche], as working for the Lord….” (Col. 3:23)
Scripture has much to say about feelings of joy and peace, the sense of confidence and stability even in the midst of chaos or “tribulation.” It also speaks of guarding our minds and hearts with wisdom.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:2)
“For this reason…we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” (Col. 1:9)
“But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor. 2:16)
“I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Heb. 8:10)
“…in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit…The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace….” (Rom. 8:4-6)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23)
“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…think about such things.” (Phl. 4:8)
Food, rest, prayer, fasting, alone-time with God, and care of the body is vital. Ears, mouth, eyes, limbs, and brains are important not only to individual bodies, but metaphorically to the collective body of believers. Blood, too, is central to the body, and, biblically, is always associated with life, i.e., life-blood. The blood of Christ is the life of Christ. He, of course, addresses the need for eyes to see and ears to hear so that we may understand and be healed.
“Isn’t life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Mat. 6:25)
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Mrk. 14:38)
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” (Luk. 11:34-35)
“Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” (Mat. 26:26)
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (Jas. 2:26)
“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psa. 84:2)
“Therefore honor God with your body.” (1Cor. 6:20)
“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart….” (1Pet. 1:22 NAS)
“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” (1Pet. 2:15)
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jhn. 13:35)
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do what I say?” (Luk. 6:46)
“The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet’…are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Rom. 13:9)
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.” (2Thess. 1:11)
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom….” (Jas. 2:12)
“Let us behave decently….” (Rom. 13:13)
God gives people the same elements of personhood that He possesses, and that’s a start to how each person relates to Him. He considers every human being, even the wicked, as precious and worth saving. The point of new life is to live as fully as God does, as nobly as Christ does, in blessed well-being, light, and goodness.
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’
No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction…Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” (Deu. 30:11-15, 19-20)
The core of Jesus’ gospel message is that God and His world are close, very near. Not only is He actively engaged in our immediate surroundings, for Christians, He’s so close as to be inside us. And it doesn’t get much closer than that.
“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (3Jhn. 1:2 NAS)