Two months ago I began this “soul” journey. I believe this is an important topic for our consideration. The reason is simple, if you don’t care for your soul it will suffer and you will become dysfunctional. Dallas Willard, a principle source of my information says “What you would take care of you must first understand, . . .” So I begin to explore what I would understand.
Willard identifies six aspects of our human life: thought, feeling, choice, body, social context and soul. The soul integrates all of the above to form one life. Frequently in Scripture soul becomes interchangeable for the whole person, note Psalm 42:5 & Luke 12. It should therefore not be a surprise to note that sin ruins the soul. “Choice is where sin dwells.” (Willard) Choice is inescapably part of the soul’s activity. Hence when we choose to sin we damage our souls. A damaged soul can only be restored by grace. This is how the Apostle Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 5:17–19 (ESV) “17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
I don’t want to get lost in too much information. Let me return to the issue of knowing. Knowing begins in our knowing Jesus. John 10:14–15 (ESV) “14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” He continues in John 14:7 (ESV) “7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” So the simple question is how well do you know Jesus? I am not asking if you know about Jesus, I am asking if you know Jesus. Be careful of the last sentence please.
Here is another angle to the knowing Jesus question. In Luke 10:25–28 (ESV) “25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” This love is not distant affection but present reality that encompasses all my being. Here is the essence, do I love God enough to let go of my desires? Do I love God enough to deny myself? Do I love God enough to go to Nineveh even when I despise the place? Do I love God enough to forgive when you have hurt me significantly? Do I love God enough to not demand my own way? Do I love God enough to be gentle and kind? Do I love God enough to invite Him to radically transform every part of me?
I didn’t even get to the second part of that concerning loving my neighbor as myself. I’ll leave that to another time.
Let me suggest some things to do as you explore your love for God. Give Him your time. There are only twenty-four hours in a day so how many are you going to give to God? One relationship author says a good marriage needs at least two hours a day devoted to the relationship. Will you give God two hours of your day? Relationships are built on conversation, sharing our thoughts, desires, experiences and understandings. How often do you listen and how often do you talk to God? His Word (the Bible) is the major source of His speaking. Those who speak in His name are another source. Prayer and the Word are our communication links. The third relationship builder is shared activity. How often are you doing what God is doing? How often are you purposefully obeying His directives?
Here is Jesus’s invitation, Matthew 11:27–30 (ESV) “27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
If you want rest for your soul, take Jesus’s yoke.