Thursday, December 1, 2016

You do not have a soul

"You don't have a soul.  You are a soul.  You have a body."  This quote has been attributed to C.S. Lewis, but many have searched in vain for it in his writings.  Rather, "Never tell a child", said George MacDonald, 'you have a soul.  Teach him, you are a soul; you have a body."  However, C.S. Lewis was a great admirer of the Scottish minister George MacDonald, who wrote many wonderful books in the mid to late 19th century.  That may possibly explain how this quote came to be attributed to the better known C.S. Lewis instead of to the more obscure writer, George MacDonald.

Initially, the reaction to this quote may be, "I don't have a soul?  What?"  But then the next bit of the quote, "You are a soul." may trigger a "light-bulb" moment. "Oh, oh course.  My soul is not a belonging of which that I can put off or on.  My very essence is a soul, created by God, an eternal being."  The last phrase of this quote could be a real eye opener.  "You have a body." With that declaration, all three of these thoughts are woven together into one glorious conclusion:  we are spiritual beings, who are housed in bodies.  We are spirits.  We are not our bodies.

However, this world we live in seems to say that we are our bodies--that our self-worth should equate to what we see in the mirror.  We don't belong to this world since as God's children we have been set apart from it; we have been made a "peculiar people" after giving our lives to Christ. We are not to be like, or "of", this world.  When we slide into a bathtub of hot, steaming water, we are in the tub, but we are not one with the tub.  We are separate beings, we are not part "of" the tub!

That being said, it can be very difficult to remember that we are called to be separate from this world and its beliefs.  Perhaps as women, it may especially be difficult to always be fully aware and cognizant of the powerful deception that our physical appearance equals our worth. We tend to cringe when we see ourselves in photos.  Nothing looks exactly "just-so."  Our hair looks wrong, our bodies are too heavy, our smile looks funny, on and on.  We judge ourselves based on our physical appearance just as the world does. 

We get on the weight scale and see a number which is rarely satisfactory or pleasing.  Or at least, the number rarely satisfies my desired range!  We tend to equate ourselves with that number, don't we?  The scale may even determine our self-worth to one degree or another.  "I" am 120, 160, 200 pounds, or whatever the scale reads on a particular day.  Wrong!  Our bodies weigh a certain number.  WE don't.  Our  eternal souls in Christ are worth just as much at 120 pounds as they are worth at 150 or 250, or any other number, up or down.  We possess bodies; we are not our bodies!

Youth, vitality, and beauty are highly worshiped.  There seems to be much less emphasis placed on our souls and on spiritual growth than on physical beauty: gorgeous hair, flawless skin, and perfect body shapes.  It can be easy to believe the deception that we must measure up and to condemn ourselves when we don't measure up to the world's standard of beauty.  Yet we know that what God values is our inner beauty and that He only looks at our hearts. He is not nearly as concerned about our physical appearance as our spiritual maturity.

Praise God, He uses a much different scale than the world does to measure our worth to Him! When Samuel was evaluating Jesse's sons for kingship, God told him, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart," I Samuel 16:7.

We are to treat our "jars of clay" with great respect and to care for them since they are the temple of His Holy Spirit. We were formed in the womb by His very hands, and our bodies are a precious creation. And yet, we are to focus more on our spiritual  identity, who we are in Christ and our spiritual maturity than on these temporary shells. "Dear brothers and sisters...Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11

We are in these earthly tents such a short little while.  Time flies whether we are having fun or not!  Incredibly to me, I am over 50 years old.  My body will have as many years as the Father decrees, yet realistically that may only be 30-40 years at the most.  Each day rushes by as if it is in a hurry for the sun to set, and the days add up to years...  we have such a short time here on this earth.  Our earthly lives are merely a vapor before our spirits fly away to be with the Lord.  The flower fades and the grass may wither away, but God and His Word lasts forever.  And if we belong to Him, we and our new forever bodies will be with Him for always and always!  

"But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (I Corinthians 15: 35, 42-44)

Our souls are highly esteemed, seated with Christ in the Heavenly realms, loved with an everlasting love, we are heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ, and covered in His righteousness. We are chosen by Him, born of God and overcome the world, have a guaranteed inheritance and always triumph in Christ.  (1 Peter 2:9 )  We are holy, without blemish and free from accusation.  (Colossians 1:22)

No matter what these bodies that temporarily clothe us look like in the mirror, in pictures or on the scale, they are not who we are.  We are eternal souls. Our identity is in Christ, not in our appearance.  As His bride, we are clothed in His righteousness and covered in His blood; we are flawless.  This is how our Father views us:   "You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you." Song of Solomon 4:7)  I believe that He wants us to rest in this knowledge.  
He created physical bodies that temporarily house the spirits He created which possess infinite worth.  We are not our bodies. We are amazing spirits who merely have temporal bodies!