God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; Genesis 2:4-7; John 20:19-23; SOUL
28 August 2015
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Scriptures for Sunday are: Genesis 2:4-7; John 20:19-23
You can read these Scriptures here: NIV2010 and ESV
Hymns for Sunday:
UMH 88 — Maker In Whom We Live
UMH 198 — My Soul Gives Glory to My God
UMH 377 — It Is Well With My Soul
We began this series by looking at what it means that we live in a fallen world. We recognized that when the first humans succumbed to temptation and tasted the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, evil and suffering were released and unleashed into our world. Ever since then minor irritations, problems and tragedies became common in our lives.
What makes the problem even worse is that living in a fallen world we do not perceive God to be an active presence in our day-to-day lives. Not seeing God as an active presence in our lives makes it so much easier to succumb to evil and temptations. We do that by blocking and ignoring our intuition and instincts, which are some of the ways that God uses to communicate with us.
Few weeks ago we looked at what it means that we are created in the Image of God. Having been created in the image of God means that we have been created as spiritual beings because “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). Adam and Eve did not resemble God in the sense of God having having flesh and blood; Adam and Eve (and each one of us) are created in the Image of God in the sense that every person has the ability to understand abstract concepts, exercise freedom of will, has the ability to be generous, has the ability and capacity to love, exercise mercy and justice and to seek a relationship with our Creator and with other human beings.
That brings us to today’s topic. Today I want to talk about is our souls. In today’s readings we heard that when God created the first humans out of the dust of the earth, God breathed the soul, “the breath of life” into them and they became living beings (Genesis 2:7). We also heard that when Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection, “he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).
Sometimes I hear that each of us has a soul. I don’t think that this is correct. I actually think that opposite is true: each of us IS a soul that has a physical body. Every one of us is unique and distinct; that means that our souls are unique. Our identity (or should I say identities: husband, pastor, uncle, brother-in-law, medical chaplain) are rooted in our soul.
Dictionary.com defines the word “soul” as
1. Nonphysical aspect of person: the complex of human attributes that manifests as consciousness, thought, feeling, and will, regarded as distinct from the physical body
2. Feelings: a person’s emotional and moral nature, where the most private thoughts and feelings are hidden
The soul is connected to the brain because our personal history and traditions have an impact on our identity, on how we understand God and how we understand the world we live in. That information is stored in our brains.
The soul is connected to our physical body because when we exercise, eat right, and take care of our bodies we feel better and it is sometimes said that we are “in good spirits.” We know that the soul is connected to our bodily organs because when we experience times of tragic loss we feel that our “hearts are hurting”; we know that strong emotions are processed in our minds, not in our hearts; and to me it indicates that our souls are connected to at least our hearts and probably to all other internal organs.
I think of the Soul as a “spiritual organ” (as opposed to heart and liver being physical organs) that all of us have; that spiritual organ defines our identity and connects us to God. It is a part of a “mechanism” by which we hear God’s responses to our prayers and discern God’s guidance on our lives.
So what’s in it for us? How can we apply this to our lives and, more importantly, what can we do to help each other be the best versions of what God calls us to be?
Sometimes we get injured. If I walk into a corner of a table I will get bruised. Similarly, sometimes our souls get injured. What injures our souls is sin.
Each time we do something hoping that God is watching someone else at that precise moment could probably be characterized as sin.
Each time that we do something that we hope no one finds out about could probably be characterized as sin.
Each time we do something that may hurt something or someone else in God’s creation could be characterized as sin.
Each time we try to justify to ourselves why we should do something or why we should not do something could probably be characterized as sin.
Each time we sin, a little portion of our soul gets desensitized. It gets desensitized because in order for us to do something that we know is wrong we need to block that little voice that tells us not to do whatever “that” is. Our souls also get desensitized when we need to continue functioning in spite of everything else that is going on around us.
Soul injury is similar to a physical injury. When we accidentally cut ourselves, first we get a scab, then a scar. Scar tissue is less sensitive than the area around it.
After a while we get scabs all over our soul and we become much less sensitive to sin; that is our human condition; we live in a fallen world. Eventually our souls get so scarred that it becomes painful to connect to God.
The Good News is that God understands us and God understands our human condition. The Good News is that God sent Jesus to live among us and to give us an example of how to love each other and how to help each other to heal our souls. The Good News is that God sent the Holy Spirit to work with us, to shape us and to mold us so that it would be easier for us to find our way back to God. The Good News is that God established a church; communities of individuals where we can come and help other heal our souls.
We do that by sharing our faith, by celebrating the sacraments, by hearing each other’s testimonies, by praying for each other, by celebrating each other’s accomplishments and milestones, by grieving each other’s pain and loss. Every time that we gather together, we share an opportunity to verbalize what bothers us and we ask our sisters and brothers in Christ to pray for us. Prayer is central in the life of any church; prayer helps us to discern what is going on in our souls and around our souls; “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
We help each other to heal by telling and retelling our Christian story; the story of the loving God who made a choice to shed his own blood, his own essence so that we could live our lives to the fullest.