As we continue to study the nature of the soul this Thursday night, a few thoughts came to mind. First, I was reminded of Jesus’ words on this subject:
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Mark 8:35-37 (NASB)
The soul is hard to describe, but I like how author Dallas Willard defines it in his book Renovation of the Heart:
“What is running your life at any given moment is your soul. Not external circumstances, or your thoughts, or your intentions, or even your feelings, but your soul. The soul is that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self. It is the life-center of the human being.” (Italics mine)
And what does it mean to “lose” or “forfeit” your soul? Admittedly, most of the time we speak of “losing your soul”, we’re simply thinking of it’s ultimate destination – Hell. Once more, let me quote Willard here:
“We must rethink how we view a lost soul . . . Just someone God is mad at? . . . [There is] considerable confusion on this topic [because it] has resulted from trying to think of being lost in terms of its outcome. Theologically that outcome is hell . . . But the condition of lostness is not the same as the outcome to which it leads. We’re not lost because we are going to wind up in the wrong place. We are going to wind up in the wrong place because we are lost.” (Italics mine)
This leads Willard to summarize being lost as:
“To be lost means to be out of place, to be omitted. Something that is lost is something that is not where it is supposed to be, and therefore it is not integrated into the life of the one to whom it belongs and to whom it is lost.”
The first time I read those italicized words, I was stunned: We’re not lost because we are going to wind up in the wrong place. We are going to wind up in the wrong place because we are lost.” I realized I needed to stop thinking so much of “lost” as being Hell-bound, and start communicating more clearly of it as a state of being unusable, unable to fulfill one’s intended purpose, and leading to a life of frustration and ruin since one is separated from his/her Creator in this life now, but also in the one to come!
Now that we’ve defined it and described its lost condition, let’s return to Jesus’ thoughts on the soul from Mark 8. Two truths I see here:
- Jesus states the soul is more important than anything on planet Earth (“for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”)
- Yet, Jesus states many still try to trade their soul for other things (“For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”)
As I’m sure you’ve recently heard, the Powerball Lottery is expected to approach record levels before the next drawing this Wednesday night – possibly as high as $1.3 billion! Like me, I’m sure you know folks who have exchanged their soul for a lot less than $1.3 billion, or maybe for physical pleasures, or a host of other possible idols. The saddest truth about this is no matter how you try to satisfy a lost soul, it will never find its rest and peace until it is united with God in a vibrant and loving relationship.
As we continue our study of the soul this week, may we truly become good “keepers” of our soul, and also develop an urgency to share with others to evaluate the state of their soul too.